Music Hall of Fame
CFCW & Vegreville Cultural Association
Ukrainian Music Hall of Fame Inductee
Marshall Pankiw was born on August 1st 1944 in Vegreville Alberta and was raised by his parents Steve and Catherine Pankiw on a farm north of the town of Innisfree in the New Buchach area.
From a young age Marshall was interested in music and was fascinated with the Fiddle. At the age of 8 Marshall’s dad Steve finally purchased him a fiddle from the Eaton’s catalogue. For years after Marshall would play his fiddle and especially play to the music that was on the radio during the Ukrainian program. Marshall self-taught himself to play the fiddle but did on occasion get some small pointers from other local fiddle players.
At the age of 13 Marshall and his brother Eddie, who played guitar, started a band called the Sparkling Tones. Together the brothers played their first function in the local New Buchach hall. During the next 12 years Marshall and the band would play for hundreds of functions in and around all the New Buchach area. These functions include Weddings, Shower and Stag parties, Graduations, Anniversaries, New Year’s parties, Pre Lent Suppers, and countless local community hall dances. Some locations of interest included, Plain Lake, Bruno, Innisfree,
Ranfurly, Laznew, Beauvallon, Morecambe, Musidora, Two Hills, Lavoy, Vegreville, Mannville, Pathfinder, New Kiew, Myrnam, Moscow and Borshiw and many others. The band was also known to play on occasion at Lankow’s Barn Dance for the midnight frolic.
Over the years Marshall looked up to many fiddle players but was particularly fascinated with Joe Hrycyk and the style he and the Starlites band played. Over the years Marshall would learn to mirror Joe’s style to the point that people often commented when they heard the music from outside the hall, they all thought Joe’s band was playing at the function, when in fact it was Marshall and the Sparkling Tones band playing.
Over the original years of the Sparkling Tones band existence, Marshall had the privilege to play with numerous musicians. Of course his brother Ed played guitar for all of the original early years with the group, but other musicians of note that played with the Band for stretches over those 12 years included, Ernie Zaozirny (Accordion), Terry & Gordon Osinchuk (Saxaphone & Drums), Jim Yacey (Accordion), Terry Napora ( Lead Guitar), Elsie Gushnowski (Accordion), Bill Gushnowski (Drums) John Boychuk (Drums).
When Marshall and the Band stopped playing as a group in the late 60’s, Marshall still filled in on fiddle for other groups as needed such as the Roughriders, the Cimmerons and Polka Tones out of Vegreville. However while attending a wedding as a guest in the New Buchach hall, Marshall was offered the opportunity to play with Ed Stawnichy’s band on a full time basis. For the next several years Marshall would once again take the stage full time with the Majestic Sound. The band included Marshall Pankiw (Fiddle), Mike Kowal (Drums), Jim Sarafinchan (Guitar) and Ed Stawnichy on Accordion.
After close to 4 years with the group Marshall stepped back from playing music to spend time with his wife Joan and to raise a family. Over the next 30 plus years Marshall would pursue his career and family life. Though Marshall didn’t play music with a group during these years he did on occasion play at home and slowly got back into it when his youngest son Dwayne began to take interest and began to learn accordion. It was at this time that Ed Stawnichy once again reached out to Marshall to ask him to play a one off event with him and the group in Mundare. Marshall agreed, however 1 event turned into 2 and then several others. Ed would always ask Marshall’s son Dwayne to come up on stage and take over the accordion for a number of selections. As a result the desire for both Marshall and Dwayne to play became more intense as the years progressed. At this point Marshall received a phone call and was asked to play a 50th Anniversary in Innisfree in July of 2004. Marshall agreed to play and along with his son Dwayne, the Sparkling Tones band was re-established. After playing the Anniversary back in the area that Marshall was raised another event to play appeared, as one month later the group would play another Anniversary in Josephburg Alberta.
Marshall and the Sparkling Tones would go on to play Hundreds of bookings throughout the Province of Alberta over the years, including a Polka Fest in Prince Albert Saskatchewan in 2014, where the Group was the Headliner band for this annual event. Band members included Marshall Pankiw (Fiddle), Dwayne Pankiw (Accordion), Peter Gardner (Guitar) and Mike Rokovetsky (Drums). The foursome played for 12 years together recording 3 CD’s before Mike’s retirement. At this point the Band added Mike Sydora on Lead Guitar and used electric drums to keep the music in step. Peter would play 2 more years, before he also decided to retire from music. Currently Marshall and the group are still very actively playing and are currently playing their 19th year together as a 3 piece band. On occasion the band features Dwayne’s wife Irene on Tsymballa, their son’s Steven (Fiddle), Eric (Guitar). It is worthy to note that Marshall also was instrumental in passing his knowledge of the fiddle onto his grandson Steven, who still currently goes to practice with and take pointers from gedo on a daily basis.
Over Marshall’s 78 years he has actively played music for well over 34 of them. Marshall has recorded 3 albums and is currently working on a fourth. Marshall has played on stage for well over 1400 events and has always been in a band that had one or more family members playing in it. Originally his brother Ed Pankiw, his brother in law Jim Sarafinchan and currently his son Dwayne.
Do you know of an Alberta musician who has made a significant and lasting contribution to Ukrainian-Canadian music?
Details and nomination form are available here. or pick up at the Festival Office. We are accepting nominations for 2024.