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Jackson Hollow: Living in Harmony

Mike Sanyshyn and Tianna Lefebvre both grew up surrounded by music. Tianna actually had her first recording session when she was just fifteen years old. “We both entered contests, and Mike found a photograph of me singing on stage and him playing the fiddle, but we didn’t meet for another couple of years after that when we were both twenty-one.”

The two hit it off, and they have been together ever since. Mike and Tianna are married, and together they are half of Jackson Hollow, an award-winning bluegrass and country band based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The other two members of Jackson Hollow are Charlie Frie and Eric Reed. The band’s tagline is “Bluegrass and Country – Living in Harmony.” And that pretty much describes the music they play.

“I was always exposed to bluegrass,” says Mike, who played traditional fiddle tunes. “I used to enter old-time fiddle competitions.” The bluegrass bug bit in 2011 when they attended Wintergrass in Bellevue, Washington. It was at that festival that both fell hard for bluegrass. “We loved how authentic it was,” he says. “And the people were all so nice.” Hearing Rhonda Vincent was the turning point. “It felt like home for us,” Tianna says.

Jackson Hollow was formed in 2015. It took a while to find their footing as a bluegrass band. “We played in a lot of jams with friends, and we tried a few other musicians until we found people we want to spend time with,” says Mike. “Being on the road can be stressful. You have to find people you have good chemistry with, and Charlie and Eric are a lot of fun.”

he band is driven by Tianna’s powerhouse vocals. She is the winner of the British Columbia Country Music Association’s (BCCMA) Female Vocalist of the Year Award and the Horizon Award. Her career has seen her performing with stellar artists, including Shania Twain, Michelle Wright, and Russel DeCarle.

Mike has plenty of recognition as well. He is an award-winning fiddler who has won Provincial Fiddle Champion titles, and he has placed in the top three at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship. He has also been named the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and BCCMA Fiddle Player of the Year, and he has played with Ian Tyson, Lucille Starr, The Good Brothers, Randy Bachman, and the Grammy-nominated artist Deric Ruttan. He plays mandolin and provides harmony vocals to the group as well.

The other two members of the band have plenty of accolades in their own right. Upright bass player Charlie Frie is also a talented vocalist. He has been recognized by BCCMA with a Mike Norman All-Star Band Award for bass. Eric Reed is on guitar, and Juno, a nominee and Canadian Folk Music Award winner is on banjo. He is also a talented producer and recording engineer. Mike and Tianna went to IBMA in Raleigh for the first time in 2018.

“We had never been, and we were on our own,” recalls Tianna. “We didn’t know anybody there.” They went to see Ricky Skaggs get inducted that weekend and had the opportunity to meet him at a pre-show event. “It will be fun to go back now that we have a history.”

It’s no wonder that in their short time as a band, Jackson Hollow has received the BCCMA Gaylord Traditional Country Award four times. Even the band’s publicist, Jasper Anson, received the President’s Citation Award from BCCMA.

The band’s debut album on Mountain Fever Records is Roses, released on March 10. The title track comes from a song that Melba Montgomery’s son-in-law, Shane Barrett, pitched to them. The song runs four minutes and 29 seconds, longer than most songs on the radio, but they believed in the song so much they put it on their album. In addition to Melba and Shane, the album features eighteen other notable songwriters, past and present, including Jerry Salley, Carl Jackson, and Leslie Satcher, along with Canadians Patricia Conroy, Doug Folkins, Duane Steele, Jackson Matthews, and Maddison Krebs.

Roses is a bluegrass album with Americana and traditional country influences. “We wanted to create a collection of music that is more timeless than commercial,” says Tianna. “Everything from the choice of songs on Roses to the instruments reflects a classic sound, but with the advantages of modern recording.”

There’s an emotional connection to the songs on the album, which Mike says, is “a love letter to the music that grabs us as artists. Roses showcases the bluegrass genre to those waiting to discover it while respecting the pioneers who started it.”

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