Jackson Hollow’s “Look Who’s Talking Now”

The heartfelt vocals, the impeccable instrumentation, the inimitable sound of Jackson Hollow has to be experienced to be described, and, even then, words fall short. This is what happens when four of the industry’s finest get together to create something special.

Lead vocalist and four-time British Columbia Country Music Association (BCCMA) Award winner Tianna Lefebvre has performed with renowned artists such as Shania Twain, Michelle Wright, and Russell deCarle. The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and BCCMA Fiddle Player of the Year (and mandolin player) Mike Sanyshyn has toured with Grammy-nominated artist Deric Ruttan, and worked with legendary artists Ian Tyson, The Good Brothers, Lucille Starr, and Randy Bachman.

BCCMA music award winner and Juno nominee Charlie Frie’s upright bass and vocals lay a soulful foundation for the band’s timeless harmonies. Juno nominee and Canadian Folk Music Awards winner Eric Reed (guitar/banjo) is a multi-instrumentalist and producer/recording engineer.

“Simple, powerful and instantly magnetic” the blend of heart-wrenching lead vocals and dead-on harmonies backed by prodigious instrumental talent “strikes a chord with people of all ages, backgrounds and musical tastes.”

Cloverdale, British Columbia. Husband and wife-led band. Which traditional bluegrass Canadian artists have influenced your career the most?

Mike Sanyshyn: As a fiddler I was influenced by many greats such as Al Cherny, Frankie Rodgers, Elmer Tippe, Calvin Vollrath, Don Reed, Graham Townsend and John P. Allen.

Canadian artists that were inspirational to me are Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson, The Family Brown, Ronnie Prophet, The Good Brothers, Prairie Oyster and Anne Murray.

Meeting Al Cherny and watching CBC’s “The Tommy Hunter Show” helped define my desire to become a professional musician. I’ve have had the great privilege of working with some of the artists and musicians I saw on that TV show.

Our roots are strongly connected to country music, as that’s where we both had our start in this professional music industry.

We are late bloomers to the bluegrass scene as it wasn’t until 2010 when we went to the Wintergrass Festival in Bellevue, Washington where we saw Rhonda Vincent, The Time Jumpers and Dailey and Vincent.

That particular experience opened our eyes and hearts to believe that the bluegrass genre could have room for a band like Jackson Hollow.

Tianna Lefebvre: We were mostly influenced by friends of ours that started taking us to Bluegrass festivals about 10 years ago.

We were raised on country music and spent most of our careers there. But I literally fell in love with bluegrass and I was so shocked really at the pure excellence of the music.

The performers that I would say Influenced me especially are Rhonda Vincent and Jamie Dailey. Vocally, that is certainly where I strive to be.

Read that your three awards from the British Columbia Country Music Association (Gaylord Wood Traditional/Roots Country Category) during the band’s first five years led to a performance at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) International Showcase which, in turn, led to being signed by Mountain Fever Records, a Virginia-based label. Any plans to collaborate with fellow label artists?

Mike Sanyshyn: It would be great to collaborate in the future with other Mountain Fever Artists but at this point we’re celebrating our introduction to Bluegrass radio and touring live as much as possible.

Tianna Lefebvre: Not at this time, only because we haven’t had the opportunity to get down there and meet everyone even yet. We have been kinda trapped by the pandemic, but we are hopping to be in North Carolina this year to finally make that happen.

Debut single, “Travelin’ Heart,” a song about finding peace seeing new sights along the road. Can you share a time when being on the road inspired your music?

Mike Sanyshyn: I would say the inspiration doesn’t come from one place but more from a collection of experiences over the course of our careers. Having been able to work with many seasoned musicians and artists has inspired us to want to achieve a recording and touring career for Jackson Hollow.

Bluegrass music in general is quite inspiring. The quality of the songwriting is so down to Earth and the instrumentation is so precise, which always leaves me wanting to become a better musician and vocalist.

Tianna Lefebvre: When Mike and I first started dating, he was on the road with Canadian country artist Duane Steele, so I went out with them for a week. I was super inspired by Duane and the other band mates including CCMA Hall of Famer Wendell Ferguson. I really consider myself lucky because we started — I would say — on the tail end of some of the greats’ careers. The musicians that influenced us were influenced themselves by Ian Tyson, Al Churney, etc. Real Canadian music legends. I’m so glad we didn’t miss that opportunity.

“Shallow Rivers,” the follow-up to your debut single. How does the song (about looking for your soulmate) showcase your band’s sound?

Mike Sanyshyn: This song has the right mixture of both lyrical and musical elements that we can relate to. We typically choose songs that we have a connection to and can feel that we can deliver.

Tianna Lefebvre: This song kinda does encompass our sound in a way that it’s Bluegrass but with just enough modern elements to attract a broader range of listeners. It’s not the Bluegrass you think you are going to hear, and it shows that we are a vocal harmony-based band.

Current single, “Look Who’s Talking Now,” is a classic leaving song, co-written by Melba Montgomery (George Jones), Jerry Salley (Reba McEntire), and Leslie Satcher (Martina McBride). “The song shows how two people can drift apart when a simple ‘I love you’ would bring them closer together in an instant. In life, it’s critical to tell the people we love exactly how we feel about them before it’s too late.” What is your favorite lyric from the song and why?

Mike Sanyshyn: “You’re beggin’ me not to, but I tried to tell you” is Tianna’s favourite lyrical moment as she loves how Charlie’s vocal part cries in angst and emotion.

Tianna Lefebvre: Yes — and one thing I would add, from a more technical standpoint, is when we were doing the vocals for most of these songs, our bass player Charlie has to sing really high, and for that specific line, the cry in his voice really gives it a lot of feel. But as always, he took it like a champ! I wanted to change one of the keys of one of our songs to a higher one, and I said to our vocal producer Gord Maxwell, “Well, what will Charlie do then?” and he replied with the obvious, “Well, he will just have to sing even higher!”

What’s ahead in 2022?

Mike Sanyshyn: Jackson Hollow will be attending Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival (with guest Jeff Scroggins) from June 9–12 located in Haines Junction, Yukon .

This is a first for JH to perform in that Territory. In later 2022, we will be releasing more singles, touring followed by our official full length album which is a milestone moment for us.

Tianna Lefebvre: More shows, less restrictions, and the release of our album! We are eligible for IBMA awards for the first time this year — that’s exciting!

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