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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Green Flash was in the plan for investor Rick Ganong

January 26, 2024
By Sheila Evans

Rick and Kris Ganong have a philosophy: work hard, play hard and give back to the community. It is how they live their lives, and they found a whole community of like-minded people when they started coming to Boca Grande. 

They have made Boca Grande their winter home for years now, first coming to the island in 2000 when a friend had them as guests for a short vacation.

“We played a little golf, went to the beach, went tarpon fishing and had dinner at The Temp. And we were hooked,” Rick said, recognizing that the same story holds true for many of the island’s residents. The family has been coming back ever since that fateful vacation. 

“Finally, we bought a home — which we love — here ten years ago,” he said. “We have great neighbors, have a tremendous number of friends here, so we try to spend five or six months here each year. The rest of the time is spent up north or traveling.”

Rick was in the investment business for many years in the Boston area, but around Boca Grande he is better known as the lead guitar of the Green Flash Band. More on that later.

Both Rick and his wife grew up in the Greater Boston area. They met in college, and married. They have two grown children, Ryan, 32, and Kimmy, 29. Ryan and his wife, Lilly, have a beautiful daughter, Blair, who is not quite two years old. When Rick talks about little Blair he can’t stop smiling. 

Daughter Kimmy’s boyfriend, Ryan, has also become an important member of the family. He is called “RT,” to avoid confusion with son Ryan.

The younger Ganongs all live in the Boston area, and with another grandchild on the way, Rick and Kris are feeling tugged in that direction more and more. 

“It [becoming grandparents] changes life quite a bit,” Rick observed. “It’s fabulous, it’s wonderful. Blair was visiting during the holidays, and it just changes the calculus a little of where you want to be, geographically.” 

Currently, when they are not in Boca Grande, Rick and Kris divide their time between Boston, their home on the coast of Maine or traveling. They have owned a house in Kennebunk, Maine, for 25 years, and Kris has also owned and operated a farm there. She recently sold it, but for a decade she operated the farm, specializing in organic fruits and vegetables, as well as grass-fed meat, mostly lamb and beef. Rick has been an integral part of the farm operation.

Before retiring —  or “semi-retiring,” as he labels what he is doing these days, Rick spent 25 years in the investment business in Boston. 

“I enjoyed that in many ways, and I still do some personal investment work,” he said. “I serve on a number of boards, both for-profit and not-for-profit operations, as well as one public company board. So that keeps me busy. I’m able to do that really from anywhere. If we have board meetings I have to be there physically, but much of the business can be handled through Zoom.” 

What was it that attracted Rick and his wife to Boca Grande? 

“So many attractions,” Rick said, a bit overwhelmed. “Being a New Englander, and coming down here in the winter, the first thing that you notice is the weather. And then, just the friendliness of the people, very nice people here.”

His list of “Why Boca Grande” continued: “My wife and I are very active. There are not enough hours in the day, for us. We love to play golf and pickleball, and work out and ride bikes, walk on the beach, then throw in some fishing and some boating — it’s the perfect place for us.”

“It’s just wonderful,” he said, “and living in the village, and the community, we can walk everywhere or take a golf cart. We drive our car down from New England, we put a cover on it and don’t drive it all that much, which is wonderful. And we’ve met so many nice people here, it’s such a wonderful community.” 

They have also found a good outlet for their desire to contribute to the community.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time at the GICIA, overseeing the bike path committee there,” he said. “I also got involved with The Island School’s Golf Shootout, co-chairing that. Kris works with the Boca Grande Preschool, on the board for that, and has gotten involved with the Woman’s Club.”

Remember that philosophy about working hard, playing hard and giving back? It is not just a concept to the Ganongs, it is their daily schedule.

“I think that’s why we like it here so much, because most of the people here have the same philosophy, I think. They are family-oriented and have those three key things in mind every day when they wake up.”

About two and a half years ago, Rick added a new way to work hard, play hard and contribute. He heard that the band known as the Grande Band was looking for a guitar player. They were also looking to play more regularly and to step up the sound, from “folky-rock,” as Rick described it, to something a little more lively; something with more rock and more soul.

Rick has been playing guitar since he was a preteen, being part of bands on and off his whole life. He decided to check out this Boca Grande band, and then the magic happened. The sound and the chemistry were right. It was not long before the Grande Band was no more, and the Green Flash Band was born.

They threw around ideas for a name, and someone suggested naming it for the magical phenomenon when the sun is setting and seems to touch the sea and a green flash appears. It’s hard to catch, but Boca Grande is a perfect place to see it if you really allow the time to watch. It seemed to fit this new musical phenomenon on the island.

“If you come to hear us you’ll hear some classic Motown; you’ll hear some great soul music; you’ll hear some rock ‘n roll staples; you’ll hear some sappy love songs; and I think that’s what people really like. They know they are always going to get variety,” Rick said.

“The talent in the band is amazing,” he continued. “Gary Robinson, he’s been drumming professionally for 50 years! He’s an amazing drummer. Mark Wetmiller, our base player, he can play myriad instruments. He’s a tremendous musician. Phil Eyrich, our new keyboard player, is the music instructor at Lemon Bay High School, and you’ll see him in the churches here. He’s just an incredible musician. And then Hooter Hoyt, a great entertainer; phenomenal entertainer, whether it’s guitar or harmonica. Great voice. Julia Pierce, you couldn’t find a better lead female singer than Julia. And then, with the addition of Kelly McDonald and Shannon Coe, as the Flashettes, it just kind of rounds out the entire band.”

“I’m the weakest link right now,” he insisted. “So I have to work extra hard just to get them to keep me in the band!” That’s humility talking, of course.

“It’s evolved into a really fun endeavor,” he said. “When we play at Miller’s, and we see the response from the crowd, it’s amazing. And we have the best setup in the world because the Nicholas family and the staff at Miller’s have been so welcoming to us, to allow us to play, allow us to rehearse. We have roadies, too! We’re spoiled.” They play monthly at Miller’s Dockside.

The band is not really looking to leave the island, Rick said, but they have been getting some interest from off the island. They are even getting some interest from folks who want them to perform in their summer communities up north. 

“We could do a road trip one of these days,” he jokes. “Most people do that in their 20s, though, not in their 50s and 60s.” But who knows? This is a special band. “Maybe we’ll rent a van … it could be fun!” For now, they are not planning a tour. 

“We think we bring a lot of joy to the folks on the island. As soon as we don’t, we’ll probably stop playing, but we’ll keep trying,” Rick said, adding that they are always trying to expand their catalog of songs. “We take requests,” he said. “We love requests. People have been super.”

They have been playing a number of private events, and they enjoy doing charity events for the island, as well. They get together twice a week for practice and rehearsals. 

Rick acknowledged that it is a lot, but they love being together, keeping their setlist fresh and getting the positive feedback from their audiences.  They are having great fun.

“A band’s a hard thing,” Rick admitted. “Chemistry’s really important. I say chemistry’s more important than talent. Chemistry and commitment. Those trump talent, in my mind. And we seem to have that in spades. And we have some real talent, too. We love the community here. We really appreciate the response, the enthusiasm and the joy we see on people’s faces.”

Rick summed up his perspective on both the band and his life, in general: “I’m only as good as my partners in the band, and you can say that about marriage also. I feel like I have great partners in my band, and I have a great life partner, so life is pretty easy right now, it’s pretty good. I have no complaints.” 

The Green Flash performs on Feb. 24 at Miller’s Dockside and March 2 at the Lighthouse United Methodist Strawberry Festival