Rock Garden record label ready to recharge Boston

You’re a long-running rock n’ roll couple with a lot of musical friends, an enduring love for the local scene, and a newly empty nest. So of course, you take that as a cue to start a record label.

The Rock Garden showcase, Sunday at Brighton Music Hall, marks the launch of Boston’s newest label. Appearing will be everyone on the roster so far: Most of it traditionally rousing Boston rock n’ roll (the False Positives, Little Billy Lost), some tinged with metal (Fifth Freedom), vintage glam-rock (Smitt E. Smitty & the Feztones), film-noir Americana (Crow Follow) and psychedelia (Galaxy Cake). There will also be a few special guests including one of Boston’s savviest rock songwriters John Powhida, keyboardist around town Captain Easychord, and label founder’s Todd Erickson’s own band Holy Smoke.

The event will also double as an impromptu Beatles tribute: Since this week marks the 55th anniversary of the White Album’s release and the syndicated show “Breakfast With the Beatles” is sponsoring, everyone will cover one song from that double LP. Expect a few surprising choices from among the 30 possible songs.

“It’s like our coming-out party, or our gender reveal,” says musician Todd Erickson, who played in the Boston band Shake the Faith in the ‘80s and founded Rock Garden with his wife Lisa, a graphic artist. The original plan was for Rock Garden to do archival releases of vintage Boston video, but they quickly got into releasing new tracks (digital only so far). Making a nod to local roots, the first release was Holy Smoke doing the Cars classic “Bye Bye Love.”

Singer/guitarist and False Positives leader David Harrrison was one of the first to come aboard. A member of the popular band Voodoo Dolls in the ‘80s, he’d just moved back to Boston after decades away and was working on new tunes at home. A drummer friend led him to Erickson, who took Harrison’s punchy rock song “Leaves a Mark” to his home studio and made a record out of it. “He put his Toddification on it, that little bit of fairy dust. I feel like I’m coming out of the wilderness because I was working on my own for a long time. Todd’s philosophy is that a rising sea lifts all boats, and it gives me a great boost to have someone say ‘You know what? I dig that’.”

“I have been blessed with being signed to a number of record labels in my lifetime, but none have matched the energy, creativity, and genuine joy that Rock Garden Records exudes,” adds Smitt E. Smitty of the Feztones and Little Billy Lost. “Our cup runneth over with excitement and gratitude, let the fun begin!”

The launch of Rock Garden comes at a time when Boston could use some good news, since the city lost both a record label and a beloved local figure when Red on Red owner Justine Covault passed away this year. The Ericksons aren’t looking to move in on her territory, but they do hope that their label can be part of a local rock recharge.

“The sustainability of the scene is an interesting thing, it comes down to building a community that wants to do shows like we’re doing Sunday,” says Lisa. Adds Todd, “There’s been a decade of everybody wondering what the heck happened, now I feel like there’s a movement going on. We know these bands and pockets of creativity are out there, and they’re loud and proud. I think there is enough audience out there to grow this scene back to what it was.”


(Courtesy Rock Garden Records)

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