Saturday, 08 October 2016 08:00

Trevor Panczak going wild with opportunity

Written by  Al Beeber
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Trevor Panczak always makes time to play at the Gem of the West Museum Panczak and Pie Fundraiser. Panczak is part of the Project Wild country music development project. He hopes to take his music to a wider audience. Trevor Panczak always makes time to play at the Gem of the West Museum Panczak and Pie Fundraiser. Panczak is part of the Project Wild country music development project. He hopes to take his music to a wider audience. File photo by Stephanie Labbe

Trevor Panczak is as familiar to southern Albertans as wind, but now the long-time country music performer is hoping to take his music to an even bigger audience.


The Magrath native has opened for some of the biggest acts in country music, including Lady Antebellum last year at the Enmax Centre where he wowed the hometown crowd.
Now, Panczak is part of a process that will enable him to hone his craft and his act, taking both to a higher level thanks to the Project Wild country music development project.
Panczak is one of 12 finalists in the program run by a Calgary radio station and he hopes to be the second Lethbridge-based winner.
Last year, Leeroy Stagger won when it was a rock development program before the station, now Wild 95.3, switched formats.
Finalists have been undergoing a rigorous bootcamp as they head toward the final stages of the competition which includes a make-it-or-break it performance Oct. 27 for Panczak at the Knoxville bar in Calgary.
That show is one of four at the Knoxville where three performers in the competition will take to the stage each night.
The top three will be announced in November and a finalé concert date set where they will compete for prizes — essentially bursaries to pursue their careers — with the winner taking home a whopping $100,953.
Along with bandmember Ray Banman, Panczak crafted an application and was accepted into Project Wild earlier this year.
“Just to be in the Top 12 is an honour,” said Panczak, who got his first big taste of success back in 2008 when he finished second out of 50,000 contestants in the Colgate Country Showdown south of the border where he performed in the finalé at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. In that year alone, the young musician performed a whopping 100 shows.
Since then, he’s opened for the likes of Tim McGraw and Joe Nichols while performing across western Canada and holding down a full-time day job.
He’s also opened for acts including Ian Tyson, Don Williams, Keith Urban, Michelle Wright, Patti Page, Zac Brown Band, Clint Black and Dan Seals.
The exhaustive Project Wild program included spending eight days in B.C. where performers worked with a vocal trainer, stylist and learned various aspects of the music business.
“With the tools they give you, if you don’t do something with your career, you only have yourself
to blame,” said Panczak recently over coffee with bassist Banman, a freelance musician who plays a wide range of styles and will be familiar to rock fans from his time as a member of Billy Vegas.
“They give you all the resources to succeed,” said Panczak.
In B.C., Panczak along with Banman and other members of his band spent time in a studio recording as part of the project which consists of various weighted challenges that all contribute to competitors’ final point tally.
Points will be awarded for various areas including the most amount of online votes generated, with voting running for one week starting Oct. 28.
One challenge is a charity event which Panczak will host along with some musical guest artists Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the showroom at Lethbridge Dodge on 23 St. N.
Among the artists performing at the event will be veteran Canadian country performer Julian Austin and a band of city physicians.
Proceeds will go towards expansion of the mental health wing at Chinook Regional Hospital. Helping charities has long been a mission for Panczak who lost his dad and friend Johnny to cancer in 2003.
Panczak has donated earnings from CD sales to Ronald McDonald House and played at numerous community events in southern Alberta.
On Oct. 15, he’ll perform at the St. Michael’s Harvest Moon Ball at the Coast Hotel.
For the competition, he also co-wrote a country tune with fellow competitor Sykamore, who hails from Carseland.
“I couldn’t be more happier to have her as a writing partner.” said Panczak.

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