We're just in one of those life phases that some might call post-high school. Sami and Riley are in their first year of college (Whitman, Oberlin), and Leo's living the high-life of a traveler and North Carolingian till he settles down next fall at Warren Wilson College.
In the meantime, we find ways to keep playing music. We teach (look for us at Big Sur Fiddle Camp), play, and even plan gigs -- we'll keep you posted on our Appalachian tour, coming in May! And if you need us to play Glastonbury, it's simple: info@theOnlies.com!
It had to happen, someday: Without sibs of their own, Leo and Sami came to blows at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes... Or are they just rehearsing contra-dance steps for their July 23rd gig at Lake City?
We're getting super excited to share "Long Before Light" with you! Seattlelites (and a few of you wackos coming from out of state!) can get the CD before the rest of the world at our CD release party, 8 p.m. April 4 at Town Hall Seattle. (Advance tix are $10/$5 student; get them here. Day of are $5 more.) It's gonna be a beautiful night. Consider this:
Atlas Stringband, arguably Seattle's premier purveyor of old-time music, gets things rolling just after doors open at 7. They'll be playing in the Town Hall Café, where you can nosh on snacks and beverages (including beer and wine) while chatting and rubbing elbows with the nicest people in the world (or fans, duh!).
Then, at 8 p.m., Kristin Andreassen takes to the Town Hall stage, performing songs from her latest CD, "Gondolier." Kristin, with whom we've spent countless hours jamming into the night, is the folk world's latest darling, criss-crossing as she is the country at the beck and call of folk stages and radio stations. You will love love love her.
Finally, it's release time. We'll play a good amount from our new album, and even toss in a few new things we're working on. Our producer Tristan Clarridge (Crooked Still/Bee Eaters) will join us on a few numbers, as will our favorite bassist in the whole wide world, RuthMabel Boytz.
If you can't make it, we'll be glum and blue, but there's light at the end of that dark tunnel: The CD will be available on iTunes and CD Baby on April 8. It'll brighten your day, and then some!
Actually, they're overwhelmingly positive, so far. Way positive. And biased as we are, we're not totally surprised. It's been six months since we were in the studio, and we still love listening to each and every tune.
But this post isn't about our review of ourselves. It's about what others think of us. So far, we've had two lengthy reviews, one from Los Angeles, and a second from Great Britain: "...bucket-loads of talent, musically accomplished with voices that match the messages." We had a mini review from Americana Rhythm Music Magazine of Bridgewater, Va., which you see to the immediate left! And finally (at least for now), a mini-mini-mini review from Sing-Out Magazine's Pinterest page (you can pin it!), and we quote: "Very good." Not bad!
If you don't know her, then, let us introduce you to Kristin Andreassen, singer/songwriter and Portland native who has graciously accepted our invitation to be the opening act at our CD release, April 4 at Seattle's Town Hall.
Kristin is a dazzling singer, and is equally impressive as a songwriter. Plus for us, she's absolutely grounded in traditions we love, including old-time American--she can pick a guitar and clog like it was 1899! For years, we knew her a one of those amazing Uncle Earl g'Earlz. (If you don't know the all-girl old-timey band Uncle Earl, check them out!) And today, she releases her second CD, the water-buoyed Gondolier. We're excited not only for a complete listen to the CD, but also for her online CD-release concert tonight, starting at 6 p.m. at an Internet connection near you. (Don't miss it!)
Kristin grew up in Oregon, went to college in Canada, did social work in Cape Breton, and discovered that music needed to be her professional path. Since then, she's toured the world, performing in a professional clogging company, playing with Uncle Earl, and recording with a star-studded roster of trad musicians (Dirk Powell, Aoife O'Donovan, Ruth Moody, Jefferson Hamer, Laura Cortese, Sufjan Stevens, and the like...).
She's now based in Brooklyn, New York, but travels a ton still, often landing in Portland (and Seattle, where her brother lives). Her new CD juxtaposes deep traditional roots with modern NYC indie influences. Featuring guests (O'Donovan, Hamer and Punch Brother Chris Eldridge to name a few) from the exploding New York folk scene, but written largely on a remote island in New Hampshire, the lyrically and instrumentally rich arrangements on Gondolier "explore secret passageways connecting the outer edges of disparate notions – urban and rural, childhood and old age, expectation and reality," according to her press materials.
We finally met her a year ago, spending a week staying up till dawn playing tunes with her atop a Big Sur cliff. We taught her tunes, she taught us songs, and we played and played and sang and sung, all night long. (Indeed, with out her our recordings of "Jubilee" and "Big Sur" on our new CD would never have happened.) She's played Seattle in various guises before, but she likely will be a new name to a large number of Onlies' fans, so we're delighted to share her with you!
Alas, that will have to wait until April 4. But the good news is that you can listen to her concert tonight, and buy Gondolier if you like what you hear!
Our new CD has a name, "Long Before Light," and we're excited to announce our Seattle CD release, 7:30 p.m. Saturday April 4 at Town Hall!
The name comes from the lyrics to Leo's "Gathering Up The Hours," one of several original songs on the CD. It'll contain a mix of 15 traditional and original songs and tunes, all fiddle-driven and many with three-part harmony (look out, Peter Paul and Mary!). We wanted, as Leo says, the recording to capture "the joy of playing music all night long with the people we love.”
Hopefully you can join us at Town Hall. Advance tickets, $10--$5 for students--are available now, via Brown Paper Tickets. Day of show prices will be $15 for adults, $8 for students. We recommend snagging advance tickets, as we sold out our last CD release show and the building manager had to turn people away. (Not fun!)
We're way proud to have been invited to perform at "Ampersand Goes Totally Live," a conservation magazine's effort to move "from page to stage." We'll be one of over a dozen acts ranging from story-telling, photography, hip-hop, and--well yeah!--fiddle tunes.
Produced by Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy), the event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6th at Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave. in Seattle. Tickets are $8.
By Tom Braman
As Sami’s father, I asked The Onlies if I could write a little something on their Web site regarding activities over the last two weeks, and they said yes. What follows is an attempt to convey what it’s like for an outsider like me to watch/listen to The Onlies rehearse for and record a CD.
To back up a moment, I need to tell you The Onlies are recording a new CD. About a year ago, they decided to record once more while in high school, and the summer before their busy junior year was it. They wanted the experience to be educational, and to that end they hired a professional producer, Tristan Clarridge, a musical genius (and I’m not blowing smoke here—he truly is!) best known for his work as cellist with Crooked Still and The Bee Eaters. And along with Tristan, they sought a top-notch studio where they could work long hours, away from the distractions of the city.
I’m writing from the control room of that studio, Paradise Sound, on a forested hill above Index, Wash., a stone’s throw from the north fork of the Skykomish River. Riley, Leo, Sami, and Tristan spent last week at a cabin just west of here on the Skykomish, courtesy of friends/fans (thank you Theresa, Tom, and Samia!). There, they practiced from 9 a.m. till midnight for four days straight, stopping briefly for meals and the occasional river dip. Surrounding two microphones, they played the tunes and songs for hours upon hours, listening to recordings of each take. With those, Tristan—gentle as a lamb, focused as a laser—coaxed them further and further, refining their arrangements, tightening their harmonies, locking in their rhythms.
Tristan and The Onlies broke for the weekend, and returned to Index Sunday night. Here, they met Pat Sample, owner and sound engineer of Paradise Sound. Pat’s had a home-based studio in Index since 1984. After a flood attacked his first studio, he moved it to a hill east of town, and later built a gorgeous home immediately next to it. He’s got a guest residence down the hill, to which musicians repair after long days in the studio.
Pat’s as easy-going as Tristan, and as oriented toward excellence. His control room is state-of-the-art, but he hasn’t had the heart to part with his once-state-of-the-art (circa-80s) analog tape recording deck. The main studio, walled in tenor-reverberant oak and bass-dampening cotton, is where The Onlies together have spent most of their time this week. They might have spent it separately, in any of three adjacent rooms, playing away from each other except for earphones and windows, but Tristan—seeking a groove that only physical ensemble playing can generate—wanted them playing and singing together, in the same room.
And now, four days later, at 7:14 p.m. on a Friday night, with only 3 hours and 46 minutes left to record (Pat needs to close shop tonight at 11 p.m., as he’s doing sound at a nearby music festival Saturday and Sunday), the Onlies are in the studio doing take No. 8 of “Past The Fog,” a difficult tune they’ve been playing since Leo wrote it over a year and a half ago. They’ve been joined today by bassist RuthMabel Boytz, whom we parents like to call “The Fourth Only” (she’s an only child too, and plays with Sami, Leo, and Riley quite frequently). While most of the takes have been very good, this one gets nearly derailed when Sami accidently launches into an improvised version of her solo, catching everyone (including herself) off-guard. Laughter emerges, threatening a train wreck, but miraculously they all return to the tune, finishing with a modicum of polish. \
Rehearsing the band for the next set of takes, Tristan focuses on one particular line, “Squint or look away, so you can't see past the fog. Settle in for the winter.” He has The Onlies and RuthMabel sing and play it over, and over, and over. And over and over and over. And over and over and over. For the perfect take. Will it come? We’ll see.
Tonight, after Sami, Leo, and Riley have fallen asleep, after the recording phase has ended, Tristan will be pulling an all-nighter on his laptop, splicing the best parts of Take 8 with the best parts of other takes, and the same with the other tracks recorded this weeks. He began the editing phase earlier this week, but hasn’t completed it and hopes to do by tomorrow morning, before he treks back to California. Will he finish? We’ll see.
Sami, Leo, and Riley return here on Monday, to work with Pat on mixing. Mixing is the art of insuring that each recorded sound blends perfectly with all the others—that no sound dominates others, that none is lost among the others. Pat hopes they can complete at least five tracks a day—a quick pace—because after Wednesday he’s gone for a week and a half, and after that The Onlies start their junior year at Garfield. Will they finish? We’ll see.
Assuming the editing and mixing phases do come to a proper conclusion, the recordings will be sent off to yet another engineer who will “master” them—mastering is the art of making sure that all the recorded cuts on the CD have roughly the same levels, that everything sounds consistently recorded and nothing sticks out like a sore thumb. All this, some time for advanced publicity and concert planning, and with a little luck, The Onlies hope to launch the new CD in early 2015. No name yet for the CD – they’re open to suggestion. Stay tuned!
Hold onto your seats, folks, because there's a new wind blowing through town: It's a heady Northwest mix of folk and jazz coming when The Onlies join The Westerlies for the latter's Seattle CD release party., 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, at Seattle's Royal Room in Columbia City. You likely know all you need to know about us Onlies, but if you haven't heard The Westerlies, do yourself a favor.
Graduates of the Garfield and Roosevelt Jazz Orchestras, the four Westerlies found themselves together in New York City and decided to form a band: Two trumpets, two trombones, and unlimited imagination. We've listened to them live, can't get enough of their new CD, Wish The Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz, and we're super proud to be opening for them. And we're not the only ones with goose bumps. NPR's Fresh Air gave the CD a great review, and they've garnered accolades from a host of jazz critics. Kurt Gottschalk of NYC Jazz Record put it this way: The CD “is a lot of things, but first and foremost it should be noted that it is just a lovely listen. It is that rare combination of approachable and unusual that can challenge listeners who want to be challenged and entertain those who don’t.”
Tickets are $20 adults, $10 students, and apparently are going fast. You can get yours at StrangerTickets.com.
Yes, once again, Sami's bow catches fire during an Onlies' practice session. It's such a common occurrence these days, nobody in the photo seems to care. Fortunately, the band has hired a firefighter to stand by for all practice sessions and concerts, and she was able to put the fire out in seconds. Alas, the costs of purchasing new bows for Sami has become a major drain on the Onlies finances.