Defining their signature sound as “modern classic rock,” celebrated Dayton-area band, Ludlow Creek released their LP, “Which Way is Forward on September 16th, 2022. The album is dubbed as Ludlow Creek’s magnum opus, featuring some of the band’s best songs to date. “Stoney Lonesome Road” from the album reached #51 on the UK iTunes Rock Songs chart, while their Christmas single, “This Baby Boy” reached #1 on the UK iTunes charts. Additional tracks have helped the band rack up nearly 200K Spotify streams. These achievements propelled the group to a 2022 International Singer Songwriter Association Award win.
The band took some time from their busy schedule to answer some questions for us…
Can you tell us about your experiences being in a band with friends.
What are the challenges? What are the pros?
Being in a band with friends has been and is a blessing. Having the existing foundation of friendship frees us to be comfortable and honest with each other. This gives us the ability to focus on the music, and not have to “dance around issues” or “feel forced to accept things” that bands may do that are together solely because of a single objective to say make money, or play shows. We have the same challenges of any friendship (there are good times and bad times as we grow deeper as friends), but having that foundation of friendship has kept us together in the long run, allowing us to weather the rough times – whereas we probably would not still be together if we were just associated together to play shows or make money.
How do you approach songwriting and arranging in an Americana context?
We never really set out to write music in a specific genre (nor do we today). However, we all have always tended to like and gravitate to music/songs about personal experiences. Initially we came together playing cover songs – focusing on deep classic rock tunes and strictly for the enjoyment and challenge of performing certain songs together. Then we began talking about performing shows, which we eventually did – and with more frequent rehearsals, we began talking about songs each of us had written, but had not really done anything with them. So some of us brought demo songs to the band – and we learned them – and that’s how the first album came together – writing songs individually. But as we finished the second album, and started working on our coming third album, we began creating songs together as a group. What naturally came out is an amalgamation of personal experience and/or stories that have struck one of the writers – and Americana / Roots Rock tends to flow from it. So whether we bring demoes to the other members of the band, or we create music together by playing/jamming and throwing out lyrics – it all tends to center around life experiences.
Can you give us an example of a particularly challenging gig you’ve
played, and how you approached it?
An example that really stands out – we were openers at a summer outdoor festival event, and while we did get a quick sound check – and we felt everything sounded great – when the show started the mix we heard was basically unusable! Not being able to hear exactly what you are playing or singing, or what the others are doing is very unnerving. We had to rely purely on being well rehearsed to get through each song. So we watched each other for cues, played by “feel”, smiled, and made it work! We never really did figure out what happened between the sound check and the performance, but we speculate that with the crowd they brought up the full front of the PA, and that sound completely overrode the stage mix – we think! J.
How do you incorporate traditional American music styles and influences
into your playing and performance?
We don’t tend to think about, or set out to write or incorporate any particular influences into our playing or performances. From years of listening to and playing many American classics, it tends to happen quite naturally for us. When we take a song from a demo and work up its arrangement, we all “hear” various riffs, sounds, or instruments that we feel would work for a particular tune. So we’ll incorporate a mandolin, dobro, B3, vocal harmonies, etc., that invoke a southern rock, blues, or even a jazz feel. Also, we love the concert feel of “yester-year”, where a band takes the audience through an experience/journey during the show – so we spend time carefully crafting song order to create an experience for the show/event.
Tell us about your album, “Which Way is Forward.” What can listeners
Listening to “Which Way is Forward”, listeners will find an album with a distinct Americana/Roots Rock feel, but with a wide variety of differing song feels – all while staying within the spectrum of Americana/Roots Rock. Listeners can expect to be taken through a musical journey. Much like we do for shows, we spent a lot of time thinking about the song order to create an experience for the listener when they listen to the body of work from beginning to end – versus just selecting a cut here or there to listen to.
How do you stay current with trends and changes in the music scene?
We create music that comes from within each of us and our combined experience. We do not overtly try to stay current with trends or changes – our music is simply genuine and heartfelt music. We feel that if the music is something that will move or inspire us, it should translate quite well to our audience.
Can you walk us through how you prepare for a gig, from rehearsals to
Gig preparation begins with crafting a set list – looking for a selection and an ordering of songs that will fit a venue, and that will create ebbs and flows throughout the set. We then rehearse the set to see if it captures the energy and flow we sought out to create. We’ll make adjustments if necessary – and we’ll either swap in tunes from our “extras” we weren’t planning to play, or just make a change to the order of the songs. We always ensure we have “extras” well-rehearsed, allowing us the flexibility to add in or swap songs depending on how a particular show is going/how the audience is reacting to certain songs. And finally, just before we take the stage/start the performance, we huddle for a quick prayer, remembering where our talents come from, and asking for blessings for the audience, and for ourselves.
How do you balance your creative input, with the needs and preferences
of your fellow bandmates?
Now that we tend to have what we call “Creation Sessions” together – where we jam/play riffs/throw out lyrics to create songs – we kind of “auto-balance” the creative input as the creation happens organically at the same “instant” together. When a demo of a song, or a riff, or set of lyrics is brought in by an individual, we all get input into the final songs by working the song up from an idea to its final arrangement. Thankfully, all of us in the band approach our roles in a fairly selfless fashion, so we’re always looking for ways for someone besides ourselves to create or add in their elements as the song gets worked out.
Can you tell us about a time when you had to make quick decisions or
changes while performing with the band?
Quick decisions happen all the time when playing live music – which makes it such a rush to do! You never know when you’ll have an equipment failure, when some major distraction will occur, when one of the guys (that starts a song) starts playing a tune that is not next in the set list order, etc., etc. One time in particular, the wireless started to flake out on my bass – I had to find a position on stage where the amp received a decent signal so the bass came through… then during a pause between songs, I quickly pulled out a patch cord and plugged in directly. These types of things have happened to each of us, we just try to soldier through and keep the song/performance going – all the time thinking of what you’re going to do to help or remedy it.
How do you handle constructive criticism or feedback from bandmates or
other musicians in the Americana community?
If it’s truly constructive criticism, we each tend to handle it quite well – as we all want to continue to grow as musicians (and as bandmates and friends). Each of us in the band are already self-critical, so hearing constructive criticism from others either inside or outside of the band is not a big deal. Personally, I try my best to address any constructive criticism head-on, determine if it is a true criticism and if it is, immediately set out to working on how to remedy whatever it may be. Usually it ends in my improvement as a musician.
What’s next for Ludlow Creek?
We have a nice summer schedule of shows lined up, and we are currently working on our third album. We have about a dozen songs to choose from that are in various stages of readiness – from rough full band demo recordings all the way to some songs with mixing complete. We’re currently trying to determine a target album release date for some time in 2023. We’re planning on releasing some singles between now and the full album release. We’re also working some ideas for a new music video or two. And looking further out, we are still having creation sessions from time to time, and we’re gathering material for what will eventually be our fourth album.