The Onlies play original and traditional fiddle-driven music, with Celtic, old-time American, and Canadian roots. Members Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Sami Braman are Garfield High School (Seattle) seniors who’ve literally played together since they were two years old. Singing and playing fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano, they have developed a strong fan base throughout the Pacific Northwest, performing concerts, dances, restaurants, and pubs from Port Townsend to Boston. They've had opportunities to perform alongside Darol Anger, Elvis Costello, Kristin Andreassen, Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, Brittany Haas, Altan, and many of their countless other musical heroes. For dances and other projects, they are frequently joined by the their friend RuthMabel Boytz on string bass.

Sound Off! 2014 - Photo by Malayka Gormally -

Photo: The Onlies in EMP Sound Off! 2014 by Malayka Gormally  -


in their own words...

We hail from Seattle, playing gigs in places such as the Town Hall, Hale's Palladium, Moisture Festival, ACT Theater,  The Royal Room, The Moore Theater, The Paramount, Northwest Folklife, and many other venues.

We sing original songs, play several different kinds of traditional fiddle music, write our own tunes, put new spins on tunes that need spinning, and keep it trad when the tune is fine on its own.

We have been a band since we were all were very young and although we all know each other’s moods and moves, there is no doubt in our minds that we will keep playing together long into the future.

In April 2015 we released our second full-length album, "Long Before Light." The CD features 15 original and traditional songs portraying each of our personal strengths and passions and weaving them together to form a warm, joyful sound that reminds us of fiddle camps over the summer. We released our first LP in 2013, "Setting Out To Sea," and an EP in 2011, "The Day That Never Was."

And a little more from each of the band members:

LEO: (Me.) I *officially* entered the musical world about 11 years ago, but I have been attending the square dances down the street and folk music festivals since, really, before I was born.

A lot of my musical direction and influence has come from Irish musicians, both past and present; Dale Russ (my wonderful teacher), Liz Carroll, Kevin Burke, Martin Hayes, Paddy Glackin, along with the incredible old recordings of Michael Coleman, Bobby Casey, James Morrison, Paddy Killoran, and many more. Lately, though, old time music (and other styles as well) have been equally prominent in my musicality, and I have been learning from the music of contemporary players like Bruce Molsky, Rushad Eggleston, and Brittany Haas, as well as older recordings of Ed Haley, John Salyer, and the like.  And, of course, on a slightly different side of the musical world, John Darnielle, Colin Meloy, and Aiofe O'Donovan all have big influences on my songwriting. Yay for them. I also, as you may or may not have noticed, play guitar. Influences there come from Ryan Hoffman (my, again wonderful, teacher), John Doyle, and Django Reinhart. That's enough of that, though.

Because Riley and Sami did this, I feel like I should say that most of my free time is spent reading, writing, playing music, or watching Hank and John Green's incredible video blogs.

That is all.

RILEY: I've been going to concerts, falling asleep in the back of square dances, and going to shows of friends and family since before I can remember. Obviously music is a huge part of my life!

Some fiddle inspirations of mine are Sammy Lind of Foghorn Stringband, Tommy Jarrell, Ron Kane, Bruce Molsky, Brittany Haas, Chance McCoy, Alasdair Fraser, Lauren Rioux, Rhys Jones, Darol Anger, Liz Carroll, Stephen Grappelli, and of course many others. My songwriting and singing idols are John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, Aiofe O'Donovan of Crooked Still, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and many others. Other musical influences are Django Reinhart, Rushad Eggelston, Natalie Haas, John Doyle, and Itzak Perlman and (of course) many more.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, noodling on instruments, listening to my favorite podcast Too Beautiful To Live, watching an internet vlog called vlogbrothers, having a quiet day at home with my family, jamming, listening to lots of varieties of music from traditional to indie folk to indie rock to classical to terrible pop music. I take lessons for classical violin from Marjorie Talvi, and guitar from Ryan Hoffman.

SAMI:  I'm Sami, and I've been playing with Leo and Riley since we met each other in preschool those many years ago. I've known them as long as I can remember--and since we're Onlies, I'd call them my "brothers from other mothers." In my free time, I love to dance, write, play soccer, run, hang out with friends and family, eat delicious foods, and play fiddle. I take lessons with Ruthie Dornfeld who's taught me everything from Brazilian Choros and Bach Partitas to Cape Breton strathspeys and driving old-timey tunes. I've also been playing guitar for a few years now and enjoy plunking on it occasionally when I have time to practice. I play in the Garfield High School Symphony Orchestra and have been exploring both classical and jazz music for some time now. Teaching music is another passion of mine and I've been exploring that recently through fiddle camps, lessons, and tutoring. I love jamming all different styles of traditional fiddle music, especially Cape Breton sets and driving Old-Time tunes.

My musical inspirations are: Brittany Haas, Natalie MacMaster, Natalie Haas, Alasdair Fraser, Bruce Molsky, Rhys Jones, Liz Carroll, Darol Anger, Colin Grant, Antti Jarvela, Mairead Ni Mhaoniagh, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Stewart Duncan, Tim O'brien, John Hartford, Dirk Powell, Rushad Eggleston, Aoife O'Donovan, Kristin Andreassen, Crooked Still, The Bee Eaters, Evie Ladin, Andrea Beaton, Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum, De Temps Antan, Hanneke Cassel, Ruthie Dornfeld, Nickel Creek, Sarah Jarosz, Vassar Clements, Tommy Jarrell, The McKassons, Genticorum, Väsen, Nightengale, Troy McGillivray, Ed Haley, Tatiana Hargreaves, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, The Wailin' Jennys, Shostakovich, Patty Griffin, Beolach, the list goes on and on and after I post this I am going to think of many more that I forgot!

20 thoughts on “Bio

  1. Bill Cross

    Saw you at Canyon Wren at the festival, and wish you all great success in the future. Hope to see you again sometime, so my wife and I will look for a gig nearby. Do you know Rib? It would be great to have you at the Heybrook Hoedown benefit in Index on October 13th . Ask Rib or Hunter about it.

  2. D'vorah Kost

    Just heard your radio spot (101 FM from the Icycle Creek event.) I loved it! Your playing and your speaking were so impressive, tight, warm and friendly, right there and right on! I'm seeing your website for the first time and am delighted in all your doings, new album, songwriting, music music music. Bravo to all of you!!!

  3. Anna, Finn, Tong Yuan

    We love you guys. You are soooooo awesome. Glad we know at least one of you (Anna knows two and doesn't she feel superior because of it.) Such talents (yay for corny sayings) 🙂

  4. Kristina

    I heard your group on NPR and really enjoyed your music. I also got a big laugh listening to the interview. Really liked the fact that you all go to Garfield High School because my Grandmother was student there (class of 1937) and a percussionist in the marching band. I must catch a live performance of the Onlies!


      Thanks Kristina!!! Your grandmother likely went to school with Sami's grandfather, Sam Robinson, or his elder brother John. Sam graduated in 1940 (or 41), and John graduated a few years earlier. Sam was a bit of a football star (he went on to play at UW), so their paths may have crossed at least on the football field. Both have passed away, but Sami walks the halls of Garfield proudly knowing they, too, were there.

      Come introduce yourself to us at Northwest Folklife -- we play at the Northwest Court stage at 7:20, Friday May 24. We'd love to meet you. And, with hopes that your grandmother is still beating her drums, we recommend bringing her too!

  5. Tony Lawless

    Hi Guys

    I have listened to and reviewed a lot of albums in the last while on and have not been so impressed with a debut in a long time. Devon Leger of Hearth Music posted a review of your album on Tradconnect so its my first introduction. You cheered up my Sunday morning and I will be posting a few blogs and Soundcloud files on you guys in the coming months. So young and so talented. Love it. Tony


      Tony -- thanks so much for the ultra-ultra-inspirational words. You can't imagine how you cheered up our entire month! Thanks, too, in advance for any online mentions. We'll stick an album in the mail to your Dublin address, if that's OK (we think the art's pretty cool -- Leo took most of the photographs!). In the meantime, you'll find extensive liner notes here: . Thanks again! -- leo, sami, and riley (

  6. Courtney

    Leo, I think we may have shared precious shade at VFF on Sunday--stage 5, Black Prairie, next to the sound tent. Annalisa is my daughter's fiddle teacher.

    Spent some time on your website, love your music, love that the three of you are doing what you're doing!

    Hope you come to Portland soon, would love to take my daughter to see you guys. Super cool for her to see people her age playing this music. I signed up on the email list, so I'll keep my eyes open for upcoming shows!

    I wish you all the best in your musical journey...

  7. Ned

    I enjoyed your playing in Palo Alto, and when I bought the CDs, the conversation with Ethan was so interesting that I forgot my wallet & left it on the stage - it only took a week to get it back ! I'm sending your CD to my almost-13-year-old grandson in Orlando, who's the first violin in the Florida Youth Symphony and really likes Rodney Miller's music.


      Ned -- Thanks for the great comments, and we're glad you got your wallet back. Tell your grandson that both Sami and Riley play in the Garfield High School Orchestra, and there's much appreciation among The Onlies for the classical tradition, too. We hope he loves the CD!

  8. Kristin Leary


    I saw you last night at the Shasta Summit Concert at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. I was so impressed by your playing and singing. I downloaded your album today and have been thoroughly enjoying it. I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for you.



      Thanks so much, Kris! We loved playing at the show, and hope to be playing Berkeley again soon. Please come by and say hi next time, or come to Seattle!!! - leo, sami, and riley! (P.S. You probably figured it out, but the CD was produced by Tristan Clarridge, the cellist in the Berkley show.)

  9. Ryan Leschel

    I heard you guys on the radio down here in south florida (a long ways from you) and was immediately taken away at the skill and quality of your music. This is an awesome genre and its so good to see other young people break into it and expose it. Keep up the amazing work and hope to hear more music!


      Thanks Ryan! We were excited to send our CDs out to radio stations that would play our kind of music, and were really surprised how many folk radio stations were in Florida. So thanks for the note that we're being played down there, and your words of encouragement! sami, leo, and riley

Leave a Reply