The Onlies began as a trio of lifelong friends and musical collaborators who realized early on that they shared a fascination with traditional fiddle music. Leo Shannon, Samantha Braman, and Riley Calcagno started making music together at age seven (2005), and quickly became immersed in fiddle music and tradition in their home of Seattle, down the West Coast, and across the world. In recent years, they have developed their sound with the addition of Vivian Leva, an acclaimed talent of old-time, country, and Americana.
The Onlies have developed an individual sound, with original songs that “demonstrate an enviable ability to move beyond the immediacy of their lives to touch at deeper truths, and...covers of traditional songs and tunes (that) harken to the original but are unleashed with the kind of wild, free abandon that only youth provides” (Kithfolk). Their albums have charted on radio stations around the country, and they have had the opportunity to perform and collaborate with Elvis Costello, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Laurie Lewis, Altan, Tristan Clarridge, and John Herrmann. In recent years, the Onlies have found a musical center in Old Time Appalachian stringband music, and their fiddle, banjo, and guitar playing have become a fixture in a wave of young people who are studying and engaging with the old time tradition with a deep respect for the history of the music and people who make it, as well as a curiosity about how old time music fits into contemporary sounds and culture. Their most recent collaboration is a recording of old time tunes and songs with John Herrmann, Meredith McIntosh, Eric Robertson, and Tristan Clarridge in a project titled The Ruglifters (Yodel-Ay-ee 099). Vivian Leva's charting solo debut, Time is Everything was released on Free Dirt Records in 2018 as well. They are the 2017 winners of the Appalachian Stringband Contest in Clifftop, WV. The Onlies have a lot to say in the future of American folk and traditional music.