The Onlies Onlies play original and traditional fiddle-driven music, with Celtic, old-time American, and Canadian roots. Members Leo Shannon, Riley Calcagno, and Samantha Braman are Garfield High freshmen who’ve literally played together since birth. Singing and playing fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano, they have developed a strong fan base throughout the Pacific Northwest, performing concerts, square and contra dances, and pub gigs from Port Townsend to Portland, Ore. Since 2011 they have been thrilled to have RuthMabel Boytz, a fantastic string bass player, joining them for dances and other projects.
Photo: The Onlies in Big Sur, 2012
in their own words…
We hail from Seattle, playing gigs in places such as the ACT Theater, Northwest Folklife, A Terrible Beauty, Lake City Contra Dance, 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.
We’ve just finished our first full-length album, “Setting Out to Sea.” The CD features six original songs and tunes, plus traditional and contemporary selections showing off each of their personal strengths and passions: Old-time for Riley, Irish for Leo, and Scottish/Cape Breton (Canada) for Samantha. We released an EP in 2011, “The Day That Never Was.”
And a little more from each of the kids:
LEO: (Me.) I *officially* entered the musical world about 9 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 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, piano and music theory from Valerie Shields, and guitar from Ryan Hoffman.
SAMI: I’m Sami, and I’ve been playing with Leo and Riley since we learned how to play fiddle (like a zillion years ago!) Just kidding, we’re only 14! I love to dance, to write, to play soccer, track, basketball, and of course the fiddle! Anyway, 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 love all kinds of music, but Cape Breton music takes first place.
My musical inspirations are: Natalie MacMaster, Brittany Haas, Natalie Haas, Alasdair Fraser, Bruce Molsky, Liz Carroll, Darol Anger, Rushad Eggleston, Aoife O’Donovan, Crooked Still, The Bee Eaters, Leahy, Mack Morin, Andrea Beaton, Tyde, Laurie Lewis, Hanneke Cassel, Ruthie Dornfeld, The McKassons, Väsen, Nightengale, Troy McGillivray, The Retrospectacles, Tatiana Hargreaves, Tchaikovsky, Bach, The Wailin’ Jennys, the list goes on and on and after I post this I am going to think of like 10 more that I forgot!