One of Sarasota’s Helpers: Gail Grimm Gerdes
The helpers are those who quietly do the legwork to bring about great rewards, usually to assist someone or some entity for which they ask nothing in return. Generally, they aren’t the loudest people in the room and will keep busy at parties doing what they do best, which is helping. Such is the case with Gail Grimm Gerdes, a prominent photographer in and around Sarasota who is in many ways a living example of how to achieve balance and harmony without forsaking excellence in your everyday life.
A philanthropic force to be reckoned with, Gail and her musician husband “Stretch,” are a couple who model teamwork in everything they do. Her love of photography and his desire to play guitar in a live setting, again, essentially led them to the same place, which is in the center of Sarasota’s live music scene. With Greg on the stage and Gail in the crowd capturing every moment of his performance and the audience’s enjoyment behind her camera lenses, the couple realized a copasetic union that works for them. When Greg began expressing his dream to rejoin the thriving group of live musicians around town, Gail was more than supportive. She knew they wanted to spend time together but a keen self-awareness also led her to the fact that sitting at a table every night watching her husband wasn’t going to be enough for her. She wanted to capture his great live moments and what better way to do that than to photograph his gigs. With her photography business escalating in the background, Gail was able to hone her talents by focusing on the personalities of the people who began coming to the jams. She points out that after spending enough time with musicians, she has learned to wait to start shooting photos, for there is a moment when each musician loses himself in the music and she can just “see them go.” That’s when she starts clicking away and the passion and love that is shown on the faces of the musicians clearly resonates through her pictures.
Gail has turned her once hobby as a photographer into a successful career as owner of BOSK Photo (which was named for Beast, Ozzie, Sippi and Kathy, her fur babies). She not only photographs her husband, but many other musicians and fans around town, as well as weddings, parties, family portraits, and shoots in any environment where she can beautifully capture a memory for her clients. She credits Rock Legend Photographers and Full Access Magazine for giving her a start and the opportunity to shoot some high profile musicians.
Gail truly believes in the power of a great partnership in a marriage, and she easily leads you down an interesting path about her husband. She loves explaining how Greg’s time as a musician and rising popularity forming a local acoustic jam has turned into a two-year, every Sunday happening at Bearded Clam Waterfront Restaurant & Tike Bar, something of a rarity in the life of a musician where local venues close, ordinances change, and live music gets pushed aside in favor of additional tables. But for Greg “Stretch” Gerdes, life at “The Clam” has been an air-conditioned breeze, as every Sunday, like clockwork, he heads there for an acoustic jam with an ever-changing ensemble of talented musicians. Featuring a “guest act” each week has become a fun surprise to a growing number of locals who make the jaunt there for excellent music, great food, a quick stop for one of Gail’s photos, and even a dip in the pool outside. Another passion of Greg’s is Rockitman Radio, which bring listeners the abc’s of rock, and broadcasts live from local venues and festivals throughout the area, promoting artists new and old. And this is just what Greg does when he’s not working a full-time career as a Hillsborough County Electrical Inspector.
But back to their philanthropic work, well, let’s just say the help they dish out on a steady basis far exceeds what most of us even dream of doing. And, although a well-deserved yoga class or time with a good book might be in order, this duo is never hesitant to help out a friend or a good cause. As Greg is a Mason, they have deep-seated love for the Shriners Hospital and have been fervent supports of children’s charities including one of their favorites, Toys for Tots. Whether it be benefits for sick people, or local establishments like JR’s Old Packinghouse, which suffered huge losses when a fire engulfed most of its location, kids in need, or a variety of other charitable causes, Gail and Greg believe in the adage that you give an hour or two of your time, whenever asked, and in the end you encapsulate one important ideology: Give forward, and give back.
So what is on the horizon for Gail and Greg, a couple who seem to enjoy a sense of purpose and balance in their outwardly hectic lives? The most emergent project includes the aforementioned JR’s Packinghouse benefit which will be August 14 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Farm Bureau in Sarasota where Stretch will be with Rockitradio. He also has upcoming shows scheduled at Aces Lounge in Bradenton that will be intermingled with his standing gig at the Beaded Clam and is quick to acknowledge the support of the management at both venues for promoting not only Greg but live music, in general. Additionally, the couple is involved with the now yearly running of Decades Rewind, an introspection of beloved music of the last several years, set in a live theatrical setting. The show consists of a 14-piece band, nine vocalists and an eye-catching scenery that has evolved from a local production into one that is touring through southeast Florida. Local stops this fall will be in Bradenton, Port Charlotte and in Sarasota at the Van Wezel. For more information on this, please visit: http://www.decadesrewind.com/#home.
Beloved actor Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers” fame once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Such is life with Gail Gerdes and husband, Greg “Stretch” Gerdes who can be found together at night, he loudly jamming, and her, capturing that special moment when an artist is transported elsewhere by the music created at his own hands. But their story doesn’t end there. Their real journey begins as soon as they hear of the next friend in need or decide to pitch in wherever and whenever asked. Those are the helpers Mr. Rogers was also speaking of, the people lending hand and time on a daily basis, and just in general, being a good neighbor.
For more information on BOSK Photo, please visit www.boskphoto.com. You can catch up with Stretch on Facebook and hear more about Rockitman Radio at www.rockitmanradio.com.
Photos credit of BOSK Photo, Gail Grimm Gerdes