“Let’s meet for dinner. StripSteak. I want to break bread with friends.”
I knew what Aly meant when she texted me. Her musical peer—and our mutual friend—Tommy Marth had committed suicide earlier that week. She suggested the thing we did when the occasion, good or bad, called for it: We went somewhere special for food and hung out for hours. And that May 2012 dinner at StripSteak was special. We had great wine and greater company. She recommended something I’d never had—Wagyu steak—which was typical of dinner with Aly: She was determined to make a foodie out of me.
It’s a cruel irony that nearly five and a half years after we toasted to Tommy and life that Aly Unna—also known as Aly 2x and, per social media, Alethia Prudence—would also elect to leave our world prematurely. On October 2, she died at her home, having taken her own life. It not only shocked a music scene in which she hugely contributed and emotionally invested, it confused many who wondered if she had died in the October 1 shootings at the Route 91 Harvest festival, despite Aly having marked herself safe the night prior.
That her death would resonate so widely is a testament to the large footprint the bassist and occasional drummer left on the Vegas music community. For more than two decades, she played in countless local bands of wildly varying musical styles. There was nothing she wouldn’t and couldn’t learn: punk, funk, disco, jazz, the entire rock spectrum and even a bit of hip-hop.
Behold this incomplete résumé: Aly was one of the original members of lively Celtic rock collective Darby O’Gill and the Little People (stage name: London Bridges), had a brief stint in The Killers before Mark Stoermer settled in on bass, toured with eclectic singer/songwriter Jacob Smigel, laid down grooves for Double Down Saloon mainstay The Objex, guided the harmonies of folk favorite Dusty Sunshine and—most recently—provided the low end for roots-driven indie bands The First Sun and The Van der Rohe. And her participation wasn’t purely instrumental. At one time, she was the assistant music programmer for Gold Spike as part of Downtown Project’s music team.
Aly also loomed large in the food and beverage industry, where she served as bartender at places ranging from Michael Mina’s former seafood restaurant SeaBlue to the Arts District outpost of Cornish Pasty Co. She would talk about food and wine as enthusiastically as she would music; she once told me of her longtime desire to open a small eatery of her own in Northern California. She might have told me that over our first culinary adventure at Raku, or a pre-concert feast at SeaBlue, where she made me eat oysters for the first time. No one else had been able to accomplish that up until that point.
But Aly was that convincing—maybe even stubborn—and you’d never want her any other way. She had a fire and spirit to her that she could neither fake nor contain. Beyond her talents and camaraderie, the contagious nature of her passion is what made her such a necessary presence in Las Vegas’ music and service industries—and in our lives.