Long Before Light
Our new CD, coming to an ear near you!

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!)

Ampersand Goes Totally Live
Ampersand Goes Totally Live

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.

Join us! Details here.


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.

LtR, RuthMabel, Leo, Sami, Leo, Tristan, and Pat, minutes after the last track was recorded, long after midnight...
LtR, RuthMabel, Leo, Sami, Leo, Tristan, and Pat, minutes after the last track was recorded, long after midnight...

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!

The Westerlies: A new music brass quartet.
The Westerlies meet The Onlies: Blowin' in the wind?

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.


Yet again, a fiddle conflagration ensues during an Onlies' practice.
A fiddle conflagration ensues during an Onlies' practice.

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.

Come join us from 1:40 to 2:15 p.m. Saturday May 24 at the Fisher Green Stage, as we participate again at Northwest Folklife, the great-grandpappy of all Northwest folk events. This year, we'll debut a few new songs and tunes, and play some of our oldies but goodies.
OnliesBow-onlinecropping-700x400 Definitely check out all the other great acts over the weekend, from Friday through Monday. While our show takes place on Saturday, Sami plays some Cape Breton and old-timey tunes for dancers on Friday (4:30 p.m., International Dance Stage), Riley plays with his dad on Sunday (6 p.m., Trad Stage), and we all join Paul Anastasio & Fire of Tierra Caliente for some heated Mexican string music on Monday (12:30 p.m., Fisher Green Stage).
See you there, and come say hi!


In a benefit for Northwest Folklife, join us, John Ackerman, and Sunshine Music Together instructors for a family-oriented sing-along and concert from 2 to 3:15 p.m. at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, in Redmond. We'll be playing our own tunes from 2:50 to 3:10 p.m. -- ish!

Sing-a-long in Redmond, Sunday May 27.
Come and sing with us!

Even if neither you nor your littlest has never been to a Music Together class, these songs are easily accessible for families with young children to enjoy! Heck, even old hipsters will have a great time. Come out, and help raise a little money for the best fest in the west!

Music Together is an innovative music and movement program for children ages newborn to age five years and their parents or caregivers, that is based on the belief that all children are inherently musical. Originally offered to the public in 1987, it pioneered the concept of a research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum that strongly emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement.

Tickets are $10, $5 for children (Are you under 6 months? You get in free!)

soundOffImagine an under-21 band competition (unimaginable!), where your favorite teenage folk trio is pitted against an incredibly great rapper/musician - Kingston's Nabii KO$MO, an absolutely crazed garage-rock band out of Bellevue - Thee Samedi, and an amazingly ethereal electronica artist, Manatee Commune (a.k.a. Bellingham's Grant Eadie, who happens to play violin, guitar, and keys). Well, that actually will come to pass at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15 at the EMP at Seattle Center, as part of EMP's annual Sound Off! competition. We're freaking out with trepidation and excitement, and we would so be honored if you would join us, root for us, and root for our competition as well -- they truly rock. It's such an honor to be among semi-finalists in this well-respected annual event. We recommend attending every one of the three semi-final events, which run each Saturday starting Feb. 8, and then coming out for the final showdown,  March 1.

An annual event since 2001, EMP’s Sound Off! supports the all-ages scene by giving artists an opportunity to showcase original music, launch their music careers, and connect with the larger artistic community. All participants are 21 or under and residents of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, or Idaho.

The coolest rule is that all music has to be 100 percent original, so while you'll hear some familiar stuff, we'll be debuting some new tunes and songs. Get the details (including tix). Be there!

Winter Fireside Party, 2013Tomorrow, along with a slew o' stellar Seattle musos, we will brandish our fiddles, geetars, and such and play more than a few notes at the Winter Fireside Party, a hells-a-fire fundraiser for Northwest Folklife starting at 2 p.m. at Seattle Center. We'll play a concert AND a square dance (yes, we're giving our fingers a day of rest today), and count ourselves fortunate to play in a showcase alongside the likes of Phil and Vivian Williams, Paul Anastasio, and others. Concerts follow with Orville Williams, Ravenna Woods, The Sojourners, The Shivas, dang, even that most teenagerly of Northwest folk stars, Baby Gramps. Our elbows will be looking out for some good rubbing.

The square dance starts at 2 p.m., with Gabe Strand calling. Then at 4 p.m., we'll be part of the Northwest Fiddlers' Showcase.

Warning: The sticker shock is $25, but if you consider it's for a great, great cause, you'll probably just want to buy two tickets for yourself, or bring a friend. Do, and say high to us, dance a do-si-do, and if you've got an instrument, bring it to: There'll be jams galore.

All the deets are here.


Wow. This year has been one heck of an amazing year filled with endless wonders. To attempt to encapsulate this greatness, we thought we’d highlight our favorite musical moment from each month of this year. We hope to include every one of you—the most supportive and enthusiastic group of fans (more like friends) we could ask for. We owe 2013’s success to you!

Note: Links to videos are included, so do click!

Portland Old-Time Music Gathering posterJanuary: We had the pleasure of playing the Portland Old-Time gathering for the first time! Here's a video of the Family Dance, Portland Old-Time Gathering. It was a weekend bursting with music, dancing, inspirational people, and Voodoo doughnuts. We got opportunities to jam with friends from near and far, along with deepening our Old-Time musical skills. We’re looking forward to returning again in 2014!


February: Our album was close to finished as we headed over to the East side of Lake Washington to attend Wintergrass' 2013 kid's program. Along with crazy-fun jams, adventures, and parties within ngton to attend Wintergrass 2013. We were Youth Academy Teacher Trainees (YATTs) for the deep corridors of the Bellevue Hyatt hotel, we got the opportunity to play on-stage with Darol Anger and the Furies for a song. T'was a most fabulous fiddle weekend. Later that weekend, we attended a Rushad Eggleston house concert, and got the deep and true honor of accompanying him on "Hegwilard Basugiman"  (Spell check?). If you know Rushad, you know that we were joining him on a Sneth journey toward a Fwethering Ubujnux party (Spell check....again?)-circle extravaganza, as you can see in the video.

March: This month marks the birth of our first full-length CD, Setting Out to Sea! On March 16 at Hale's Palladium, the three of us rosined up our bows and tuned our strings in preparation for our CD release party. We must  say, it was quite an exhilarating night. With the combination of 300+ enthused audience members (made up of friends, family, musical mentors, and personal mentors), The Barn Owls (the opening band), and our boundless excitement, the night couldn't have gone any better. The energy in that room could have fueled infinite rockets to the moon. We also received notice that we were accepted into More Music at the Moore, a program in Seattle for young artists to collaborate to put together a musical show at the Moore Theater!

AprilAlong with rehearsing new material for the Moore, our families decided to take a trip to Hawaii over Spring Break. It was relaxing, inspirational, and snow-cone filled. While inspired by the island, we arranged Past the Fog, the song we would later sing at the More Music at the Moore show. Mahalo, Kauai!

May: Always a crazy-busy month, we started it off with performing a collaboration with beatboxer CDQ on New Day Northwest! Under the mentorship of bass player/singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello, we spent a week preparing for the big More at the Moore show after school at the Moore theater. Meshell was a great musical and personal role model for us, exemplifying her love of music and performance through her teaching style. Almost everything that came out of her mouth could be put into an inspirational quote book, we thought. We loved this experience--though different from what we usually do, because it gave us a chance to meet other young musicians in Seattle and learn to cross genre barriers. Who says a fiddle can't back up a beat boxer!

We also had the honor of performing and having an interview on KUOW!

Later on, we had an annual Folklife gig, and were asked to play the National Anthem at the Experience Music Project's Sky Church to honor Jimi Hendrix's musical influence. We put our own twist on it, just like Jimi did.

Here is our performance at More music at the Moore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYug_j255RU; here is Riley's performance with Otieno Terry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wscoZf6qIW0; here is Sami's performance with Emily Randolph: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HLBbF2Fuxs.

You can find more videos of the group collaboration at the STG Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/seattletheatregroup?feature=watch

June: With the conclusion of school comes the favorite time of the year....SUMMER! Leo and Riley drove over to Weiser, Idaho for the Weiser fiddle contest/festival (Sami, alas, couldn't attend). With a week of jamming and fun, Leo and Riley decided to compete in the twin fiddle category of the competition. They made it through to the finals, yet had to leave too early to compete once more. Here's the video.weizer

July: We boarded the ferry boat on our way to one of our most beloved fiddle camps, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes! While there, we spent our time roasting marshmallows, exploring abandoned barracks at Fort Warden, playing tunes in those barracks (great acoustics!), playing tunes about everywhere else, putting on crazy hats for the annual campsite hat-party, and not getting much sleep. We all got the opportunity to play a couple tunes on Ed Haley's fiddle, a really memorable musical experience.  

August: Man, this month was jam-packed as well! It started with Leo's Clifftop adventure in West Virginia, winning 4th place overall and 1st place in the youth division for fiddling! We are renaming ourselves "Leo and the Onlies" as a response to his success...haha, just kidding! At the end of the month, we embarked on our West Coast Tour! T-shirts were made:

Headed down to Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School (VOM), lead by the fearless Alasdair Fraser, we stopped to play house concerts and shows in Portland, Arcata, Berkeley, Palo Alto, and Cottage Grove. Along with MANY hours in the car, we saw many friends on our way up and down and played a lot of music on our way up and down. Valley of the Moon, like all many fiddle camps, was quite amazing. We played all sorts of tunes with all sorts of people, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new. Riley was constantly pullin' out his ole' banjo, and began to jam in the three-finger style with it! Sami was learnin' new chords on her ole' guitar, and also began to jam with it. Leo was also pullin' out his ole' banjo, and clawhammered it up. I don't know why we just went abbreviation-crazy there, but it seemed to fit the rustic mood!

September: We readjusted to school life, you know, the kind where it isn't quite the "norm" to pull out your fiddle at any time and start jamming on some tunes in the middle of the hallway like it is at fiddle camps. Schoolwork piled up, teachers were good and teachers were bad, life was busy. We did, however, play one show at the Oxbow Pumpkin Farm outside on a day where it was POURING rain...we ended up selling one CD to the two people who showed up! Here's our set-list after the day was done.... 

October: We played the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival, which was quite a blast. It was a warm and sunny day in October...something unheard of in Seattle! 

We also played a show at the Royal Room in Columbia City, a very fun night where we saw many friends! We opened for Scrape, a small orchestra Riley is part of.

Finally, we played a show with A Thousand Years At Sea, made up of Colin and Ethan, two friends from VOM!

November: We Onlies were getting into the Mexican mood rehearsing with Paul Anastasio, Elena Delisle, Juan Barco, and RuthMable Boytz for our Calentano music show! Paul and Elena had asked us if we wanted to play some Mexican tunes (from the region of Tierra Caliente) for a couple of shows, and we had our first one at the Bounty coffeehouse! La musica de tierra caliente es muy bonita, nosotros pensamos! (Now this post is tri-lingual! Notice the Hawaiian we used earlier:) Here is a video of us playing Piedritas Al Agua.

December: Ah, we've reached the end of this fabulous year! We were notified that we made it on to Sound Off, a competition between local bands hosted by the Experience Music Project in Seattle. We're looking forward to it! We're also looking forward to having our own concert series, "the Onlies Presents." A bluegrass supergroup is coming to town on January 8th to play a show--we'll be opening for them. We played a private event on the Paramount Theater stage with a couple friends from More at the Moore, and enjoyed looking out at the massive theater from a new point of view. Our recent meeting solidified our goals for 2014, and there is some pretty exciting stuff to look forward to! Finally, we've been working tirelessly on New Year's Eve to complete writing this, complete embedding videos and pictures, complete adding a few stupid jokes to keep y'all interested. If you still are, congratulations! YOU win nothing except for extra knowledge :)

Aaaaannnnnddddd.....that was our year! Other stuff happened, of course, but these were our Onlies highlights. We are looking forward to the future! We hope you, the best supporters EVER, are looking forward to the future. 2014, here we come!