Craig Gerdes

Craig Gerdes


In 2009 I began writing new material for my self-titled 2012 CD which showcases my writing style that combines modern country music flare with a nod to the greats who influenced me the most. I want my music to reach fans who have lost touch with the roots that drive mainstream country music today.


When the 4th grade teacher asked the class to write down what they wanted to be, the responses ranged from fireman to policeman to astronaut. His read “I want to be a guitar player in a country band”. A young boy's affirmation of a commitment to a lifelong dream.

Born and raised in Central Illinois, Craig Gerdes is a man who has always had his heart rooted in country music. Parents, Art (“AJ”) and Donna Gerdes raised their three children in a modest two story house a mile east of Benson, Illinois, a small farming community of 450 people. Growing up, Craig, his older brother Scott, along with sister Tena were surrounded by a flood of musical stimuli thanks, in part, to their dad who was a songwriter, guitar player and vocalist who wanted to pass his gifts on to his children.

Nap times and night times were spent falling asleep listening to his dad’s album of Elvis’ Sun Sessions, which Craig lists as his biggest musical influence. Three years of age is the first time Craig remembers making music with his family. Although very young, he had already spent his entire life watching his dad and brother play guitar. Following their lead, Craig picked up his dad’s old Alvarez acoustic guitar and started to pick away. He took his lessons from studying what his dad and brother did and then tried to repeat it.

At 11 years old, he had already been playing guitar for 8 years and he decided to follow his dad in another area, songwriting. He wrote his first song, “Will You Find a Heartache”, the lyrics for which hang in a frame in his house to serve as a reminder of where he started and what he hopes to be widely recognized as someday.

Around this same time, AJ decided that Craig was ready to step in front of the mike as lead guitarist and vocalist in the family band, Half Country. By age 17, Craig formed his own band which brought in large crowds with their covers of various rock and roll songs while still delving back to his country roots.

At 19, Craig, his wife Janel and daughter Amanda settled into their own home nearby. Over the next several years he continued to front his band until he finally decided to take some time off to raise his own family, which had grown to 3 children.

Even though he was unofficially away from music, he never lost the desire to play guitar. It was May of 2009 that a family tragedy changed his life. His 16 year old cousin, Jaclyn Park, was killed in an automobile accident on the way to a high school baseball game. While the family was trying to deal with the pain, Craig picked up his guitar and wrote a song for Jaclyn’s mom. He found in some small way, it helped to deal with the loss

The spark that Jaclyn had lit didn’t end there. She became his inspiration and driving force. Having written for her, he found himself writing other songs and pondering what he wanted to do with his life as he knew it was short and that you have to make the most of it while you’re here. So in 2010, with the support of family, he made the decision to follow his heart and do what he was always meant to do, write music and perform. Since then, he has written more than 35 songs, most of them penciled on his front porch or while driving in his old pickup truck.

His experiences have seasoned him as an artist and have coursed their way into his new self-titled cd which features him on vocals, lead guitar and harmony vocals. He wrote nine of the ten songs and has been blessed and humbled by working with some of Nashville’s finest musicians. The ties he’s built and the energy he’s created have given him the undeniable drive to take his music to the next level. He has a lot to say and share and he’s ready for the world to be his stage!