Grandpa nearing retirement going for it with his band

Allen Seals picked up his first guitar in 1969.

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, so-called “garage bands”- amateur rock bands with small local audiences, were popping up everywhere. As electric musical instruments became more affordable and rock and roll began to have a major impact on American culture, teenagers across the nation started learning to play.

That included young Allen Seals of Kettering who grew up in Dayton and Springboro in 1960s and ‘70s.

“I picked up my first guitar in 1969,” Seals said. “It was about the time I first heard ‘Classical Gas.’”

That song, by guitarist Mason Williams, had been released in 1968 and rose to the top of the Billboard charts. It inspired a generation of young musicians to learn to play.

“I badgered my parents to get me a guitar,” Seals said. “My older brother, Larry, was already playing in a band and I wanted to join.”

In those days, Seals and his friends would get together to practice their music, improvising for any instruments they didn’t have.

“Larry and I ended up forming a band called Shadowplay in 1978,” Seals said. “I was the youngest member.”

That same year, Seals graduated from Springboro High School and joined the three other members of the band playing festivals and local after-prom events (Including his own).

“It was more of a just-for-fun thing,” Seals said. “We didn’t really have a lot of aspirations at the time.”

Seals knew the “just for fun” band wouldn’t pay the bills, so he went to tech school to study electronics and got a job after he graduated. His employer paid for him to continue his education and eventually he earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering. He spent the majority of his professional career working for the Department of Defense at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and continues working today as a contractor.

“I still played music on the side,” Seals said. “My brother had another band called Wooden Nickel and I played with them for 10 years.”

Seals said he “cut his teeth” playing before live audiences with Wooden Nickel – a crossover country band that traveled locally playing at Eagles, Elks and Moose lodges.

“I put my music aside after I got married and started having a family,” Seals said. “Then in 2004, I met two members of Ludlow Creek who had also finished raising their kids.”

Tom and Michelle Scarpelli and Seals started playing music together for fun at parties and they soon met Jeff Friend, a drummer. Now four members, they decided to put together a band called Southbound, because they wanted to focus on the very popular southern rock genre.

“We started playing together and really clicked,” Seals said. “We decided to go play some clubs and bars in Dayton.”

It was during this time that the group met Dave Benson, who played guitar and sang. The group of five increased their performances, playing at festivals each summer. Southbound, known mostly as a cover band, continued performing with promoters calling them often, until last year.

“We had already started to create and write our own music,” Seals said. “In 2015 we released our first album, ‘Hands of Time.’ But we had no way to promote it other than doing it ourselves.”

That album received positive reactions from fans and people listening to it on iTunes and Spotify. And that encouraged the band members to continue writing their own music. In 2021, they decided to rename and rebrand their band.

“Ludlow Creek is an actual creek that runs east of Fairborn,” Seals said. “We were looking for a name unique to us and it so happens that the Scarpellis’ house is on that creek. It seemed appropriate.”

Now with a focus on original songs and music, Ludlow Creek has recorded their second album, “Which Way is Forward,” expected to be released at the end of this summer. They are also now working with Michael Stover in Nashville who is helping them promote their band and album.

“We are getting a lot more attention now,” Seals said.

The modern classic rock band has also been nominated for the International Singer Songwriter Association Awards, to be held next month in Atlanta. They are up for single, album and video of the year.

“The new album is a mix of genres with roots in classic rock,” Seals said. “I think that people will be surprised with what’s on our new album.”

Now that all the band members are either retired or getting close to retiring from their full-time careers, they have time to focus exclusively on their music.

“I think one of the cool things about being this age in our lives, is that we now have this cool opportunity to really go for it with the band,” Seals said. “My kids are grown and I’m a grandpa now!”

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