Quiet isn’t generally a word that comes to mind when you think about musicians. Seriously, it’s their job to make beautiful sound, but that’s what you get when you talk to Mike Sanyshyn.
A quiet and generally unassuming fellow, you might not know it from looking, but Sanyshyn is nominated for Fiddler of the Year at the upcoming Canadian Country Music Association Awards, held Sept. 6 to 9 in Hamilton.
While Mike and his wife Tianna Lefebvre won’t be able to make it to the event, he said it doesn’t change how it feels to get this type of recognition.
“This is a really big deal because you’re being recognized by your peers,” said the Surrey resident. “The nomination, regardless of how many times it happens, it always feels like the first time.”
For Sanyshyn the passion started back when an eight-year-old kid named Mike made his way with family from Coleman, Alberta deep into British Columbia, picking up a fiddle along to way and following in the footsteps of his own father.
And the rest, they say, is history.
From his early days as a back-up musician, playing fiddle for whoever was in need, to becoming a hired studio stringer for the likes of Ian Tyson and Randy Bachmann, Sanyshyn has been stringing audiences along since the ripe old age of 22, joining Duane Steele.
But is there anything he’d have done different?
“If I had the chance to go back and talk to my younger self, I’d tell him that he better have a backup plan,” Sanyshyn joked.
“The music business is a really hard road to take. I think I’d just tell myself to put some money away,” he mused.
As a business we don’t have the same pension benefits a lot of other people have and that’s not to say I’m complaining, it’s just something you don’t think about when you’re young and heading down this road, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.”
And who would change a thing? After all, what would country music as a whole be without a good story and a fiddle bow to draw out the emotions.
“All versions of country music, from blue grass to pop, feature the fiddle. It’s a quintessential part of the perfect country song and I love celebrating the talent included in this category each year,” said Tracy Martin, president of the Canadian Country Music Association.
“Working with guys like Ian Tyson and Randy Bachmann and so many more, this has been amazing and I just couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else,” Sanyshyn said.
The work of a fiddler never ends.
“This summer has been great, recently been touring with Jackson Hollow… We’ve been touring all summer, we played Rockin’ River Fest and several other events, which has been great,” said Sanyshyn. “We’re just happy to be staying busy.”
“Unfortunately due to some scheduling conflicts I won’t be able to be in Hamilton for the CCMA Awards, but I’ll be following it and I wish everyone luck, it’s just an honour to be named alongside some true greats in the category,” he said.
The 2018 Fiddler of the Year nominees are Sanyshyn along with Denis Dufresne, Ali Raney, Tyler Vollrath and Mark Whitehead.
At the event in Hamilton, Surrey’s Stephano Barberis is nominated for Video Director of the Year, an award he’s won multiple times in recent years.