Veteran of Boston’s indie rock scene takes over at Rounder Records

John Strohm
Don VanCleave
John Strohm

A former member of the Blake Babies who also played with The Lemonheads is the new president of Rounder Records, the Nashville-based label that began in Cambridge in 1970.

John Strohm, who founded the Blake Babies with Juliana Hatfield and Freda Love Smith in the ’80s, has succeeded John Virant as president of Rounder, overseeing management of the label’s day-to-day operations and reporting to Tom Whalley, the overlord of Concord Music, which bought Rounder in 2010 and moved it to Nashville four years later.

“As a 30-year veteran of the independent music community, it’s an unbelievable opportunity to be named president of a label that has produced many of my favorite records over its distinguished nearly 50-year history,” Strohm said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Tom Whalley, John Virant, and the label’s founders and staff to continue to build Rounder’s tradition of developing and promoting the works of groundbreaking roots artists.”


No, Strohm didn’t just step off the stage and into the boardroom. In 2004, Strohm graduated from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., where he served as editor in chief of the Cumberland Law Review. More recently, he was senior counsel at the law firm Loeb & Loeb, where he helped develop the careers of Bon Iver, Sturgill Simpson, Alabama Shakes, Dawes, Julien Baker, and The Civil Wars.

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Rounder’s roster of artists includes Steve Martin, Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Chris Hillman, George Thorogood, and Pokey LaFarge, among others.

“In addition to his rare experience as both a successful recording artist and a creative executive, John possesses impeccable taste and an inspired approach to championing talent,” Whalley said of his new hire.

The other members of the Blake Babies aren’t doing too badly, either. Drummer Love Smith is a lecturer in the School of Communication at Northwestern University and author of the well-received memoir “Red Velvet Underground: A Rock Memoir, with Recipes.” And Hatfield has continued to record, recently releasing “Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John,” a tribute record that Newton-John herself seems to enjoy, at least judging from her tweet about it this week.

Anyway, a shout-out to Strohm. Here’s a Blake Babies song from the band’s 1991 EP “Rosy Jack World.”