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Cloverdale musician fiddles his way to national prominence

Mike Sanyshyn earns another Fiddle Player of the Year nomination from country musician association
Mike Sanyshyn playing the fiddle in 2013. (File photo: Gord Goble)

Members of the Canadian Country Music Association don’t fiddle around when Mike Sanyshyn’s name is mentioned.

Once again, the Cloverdale-based musician is nominated as the organization’s Fiddle Player of the Year, an award presented during this weekend’s CCMA awards in Saskatoon.

Sanyshyn won the award once before, a decade ago.

“But I’ve been nominated virtually every year since 1996, give or take a couple of years, maybe,” he said. “It’s incredible, great to be recognized by your peers in the industry. It feels good, and gives you a sense that you’re going in the right direction and that your hard work is paying off.”

At the CCMA awards event, fellow Surrey resident Stephano Barberis is also nominated, as Video Director of the Year. Last fall, Barberis won the award for the seventh year in a row.

Sanyshyn is a go-to fiddle and mandolin player for touring and recording artists far and wide, including Kenny Hess, Todd Richard, Chad Brownlee, Aaron Pritchett, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and many others.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be on a high call list for people, near the top guys to call,” he said. “I’m usually one of those, in that top number, which is cool.”

Sanyshyn, who grew up in White Rock, moved to the Cloverdale area in 2000.

A third-generation fiddler, he’s been playing music since age eight.

“Within the first six months after that, I was performing at a music festival, and I remember that well,” Sanyshyn recalled. “I just fell in love with the instrument and knew it was what I wanted to do, at a very early age.

“With my father (Evan) and grandfather (John) both playing the instrument, it just seemed like a normal thing for me to be attracted to, and it was an instant attraction. I always took an interest in them playing music and watching them jam, and I’d be hanging out with them and pretending to play along on a mandolin with no strings, just kind of trying to keep up – you know, just emulate them.”

These days, some of Sanyshyn’s time is spent working on Jackson Hollow, a bluegrass band that also features his wife, Tianna Lefebvre, as vocalist.

He’s also a regular performer at afternoon dances played by Surrey Fiddlers. This fall, starting up again on Sept. 5, the events move to Don Christian Recreation Centre, from 1 to 4 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. Call 604-576-1066 for details.

“Whenever I’m not booked on a job, I try to donate my time to the Surrey Fiddlers,” Sanyshyn said. “Whenever I can, I’m there.”

READ MORE: Surrey in fine fiddle form, from March 2017

ALSO: Fiddlers fill hall with monthly fun, from March 2015

In Saskatoon this week, the Fiddler of the Year award will be announced on Saturday as part of an industry event.

“We’ll be there, my wife and I, and we’ll perform (Thursday) during a Discovery Showcase, with different artists chosen to showcase on a national stage, as part of a house band,” Sanyshyn said.

Also this coming weekend, Sanyshyn will perform with Todd Richard & TR Band at the Bands on the Beach event in Harrison.

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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