Friday, September 30, 2011

speak to me: remembering amy.

i finally watched the video for tony bennett's new duet with amy winehouse. until a few hours ago, i did not even know this was a thing that had happened. this song "body and soul" was the last song amy winehouse recorded before she died. i've always been a big fan of amy winehouse's voice (back to black is one of my favorite pop albums of all time) and i was devastated when i heard the terrible news. i have a few friends that have gone down that same dark road so the news was personal, in a way, for me as well. addiction is a terrible monster that steals people away from themselves and once you've seen its teeth, you are never quite the same. i discovered the video of this beautiful song after watching jon stewart's interview with tony bennett on the daily show, promoting his new album Duets II. bennett said that even during the recording of this song, "she knew that she was in a lot of trouble, that she wasn't going to live."  however, he had nothing but lovely things to say about working with her. he said that in 70 years of working in the music business, amy is one of the few people who "sings right." he said that she was a true jazz singer and that they bonded over a shared love of dinah washington. watching this video, i was deeply moved. i think it's really beautiful that her last music video has no special effects, no crazy sets or costumes, no storyline.  it's just tony and amy, singing, laughing, and having a good time together.

my heart is sad and lonely
for you i sigh, for you, dear only
why haven't you seen it, i'm all for you

i spend my days in longing
and wondering why it's me you're wronging
i tell you, i mean it, i'm all for you
body and soul

i can't believe it, it's hard to conceive it
that you'd turn away romance
are you pretending, it looks like the ending
unless i could have one more chance to prove dear
my life, a wreck you're making
you know i'm yours for just the taking
i'd gladly surrender myself to you
body and soul.

ps: to lighten the mood a little (and to prove to any skeptics that she DOES, in fact, have an incredible voice), i wanted to share another single off of Duets II, the lady is a tramp by tony bennett and lady gaga.  yup.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ravenclaw pride.

so as you all know, i am obsessed with harry potter.  so naturally when j.k. rowling announced pottermore, an interactive way to explore the books online, i jumped at the opportunity to join the beta group and get early access.  (some of you who haven't read the books may not understand why a grown ass woman such as myself would be so invested in a silly online game, but the opportunity to read previously unreleased content about the world of harry potter is something i really can't turn down.  read the books, you'll see.)  this weekend my welcome email finally came!  i got to sign in, explore the new content, buy my wand at ollivanders, and most importantly - get sorted into my house.  which house you belong to has always been a big topic of discussion among potter fans, but i have never been able to tell if i am more of a ravenclaw or a gryffindor.  this 7 question quiz is the definitive quiz, crafted by j.k. rowling herself, and i was super excited to see where i would end up.  as it turns out, i'm a ravenclaw!  i was so proud to be sorted into the house known for their intelligence, creativity, and eccentricity.  (luna lovegood is also my favorite harry potter character, and i am thrilled to be in the same house as her.)  ryan was also sorted into ravenclaw as well, so i like to think that even if we went to hogwarts, we still would have ended up together.  ;)  after reading the official description and history of the house, i found myself inspired to show some house spirit!  the ravenclaw colors are navy blue and gold and the symbol is a raven, so i decided to style up a dream outfit inspired by those themes that i might wear to show my pride.  what do you think?

all items found on

Friday, September 23, 2011

eurydice reflections.

as of tomorrow (in north america), autumn is officially upon us.  when i was younger summer was my favorite season, for obvious reasons - no school, vacations to the jersey shore, warm weather to ride my bike in, summer clothes, endless daylight savings sun, fireworks, and enough barbecue to stuff me silly.  however, now that i'm older and a few years out of college i'm finding that the fall may in fact be my favorite season.  without a summer vacation or school year to break things up i find myself really enjoying the change of the seasons.  this summer was brutally hot for many places in the us and i am so thrilled to finally feel comfortable outside again (and to break out my fall wardrobe).

i'm not sad to see this summer go, but i must say it was a pretty amazing time for me and ryan.  we started this blog, wrote some new songs, collaborated with visionary director (and close friend) brandon monokian on 3 plays for princeton public library's "page to stage" series, and we booked and played our first official show as spinner's end.  one of my fondest memories of this summer was working on the musical score we composed for brandon's production of eurydice by sarah ruhl for "page to stage."  brandon recently posted a youtube video of ryan and me (and our beautiful friend and collaborator, the very talented amanda ada guzman) workshopping a scene from eurydice.  since i've been asked to post more songs and videos, i thought you might want to check it out!

this was taken at our first or second rehearsal, and the songs definitely grew and changed a bit from what you see here before our actual performance.  this was basically a rough walk-through of our first scene in the play.  if you haven't read my earlier post about the play, ryan and i took the words of 3 characters called the "stones" and combined them, unedited and unabridged, as lyrics.  together, ryan, the keyboard, and i became the stones, and the script became a libretto of sorts.  each song was written around the words that we were given by the playwright, but the music is entirely original.  in fact, some of the melodies and music found in this video has been extrapolated and transformed into a new song, with original lyrics, that ryan and i just finished writing tonight!  this experience is one that i know i will always cherish, not only for the opportunity to write new music, but as the first of many future collaborations with brandon and amanda.

so what were some of your favorite memories from this past summer?  are you sad to see it go or glad to welcome the fall?

Friday, September 16, 2011

project runway: modcloth?

so i don't know about you all, but ryan and i are obsessed with the current season of project runway.  i have always loved the show, but i've never been so invested in a cast before.  last night's episode was another great one and the top three looks from viktor, anya, and josh mckinley were all gorgeous.  though josh's look was the winner for the evening, viktor's look was the one to really set my heart aflutter.  then i realized why.  i'm sure you've all seen modcloth's new lookbook for their going places collection by now, and if you haven't you should really check it out.  i realized that the "effortless interview" look may as well be the ready to wear version of viktor's look.  brilliant!  finally a project runway look that i can recreate myself.  so what do you ladies think?  was viktor channeling modcloth or what?

viktor's look:

modcloth's "effortless interview" look:

i'm totally inspired by both outfits!  the silhouette of the skirt is super flattering for nearly any body type.  it's sophisticated but fun, and could easily be dressed down with a casual tank and some flats.  and i am in love with this color combo.. the navy and goldenrod are totally retro, but the sleek gray keeps it modern.  in fact, i may have been subconsciously channeling both looks myself, as i'm wearing a pair of goldenrod tights today!  so what do you think?  are you totally loving this look for fall?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

speak to me: wedding bells.

no, not for me and ryan, silly.  that would be ridiculous, we're way too young.  on sunday, ryan's cousin becci married her long time boyfriend ian!  they are pretty badass (as evidenced by becci's styling of her wedding dress below) and their wedding definitely had an unofficial old school punk theme.  after a sweet & simple ceremony outdoors among the fruit trees, we headed inside for one of the most fun & unconventional receptions i've ever attended.  the friend of theirs who officiated the ceremony was also the lead singer of the band that played the reception.  he had this total rancid/mighty mighty bosstones throaty punk voice and silly personality and they covered many punk and rock classics.  but for this week's speak to me post, i was inspired by the song that the groom ian sang as a surprise gift to his new bride during the reception.  i present to you "ring of fire " as played by social distortion .  **all photos in this post taken by ryan's brilliant mother, kat from photography by sky**

love is a burning thing
and it makes a fiery ring
bound by wild desire
i fell into a ring of fire

i fell into a burning ring of fire
it went down, down, down and the flames went higher
and it burns, burns, burns
that ring of fire, that ring of fire

the taste of love is sweet
when hearts like ours meet
i fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild

i fell into a burning ring of fire
it went down, down, down and the flames went higher
and it burns, burns, burns
that ring of fire, that ring of fire

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

our first show!

we did it!  spinner's end has officially played our first real show.  we would like to thank field of creams cafe in mahwah, nj for having us on friday, it was really fun!  we were the only band playing that evening so we got to play for almost two hours, much longer than i've ever played before.
 i've been performing on stage for many years as an actress and (when i was younger) a dancer, but there's definitely something different about playing live music.  there is no character to play, no story to advance, no costumes, or sets, or disguises to hide behind.  the focus is just on me and ryan in that moment.  i think that's why i love to play music.  after years of pretending to be other people, music is the one place i'm forced to be nothing but true to myself. writing songs with the person i love, taking the music he gives me and blending it with my melodies and notebook scribbled words, is a very personal thing and singing them live in front of other people is a little bit scary, a little bit exhilarating, and very freeing.

the lovely owners of field of creams have asked us to come back and play some time in october!  we also just booked a spa re-launch party on the 23rd and are playing a fundraising event to support victims of domestic violence on october 13th, so our calendar is actually starting to fill up!  make sure to check our "upcoming shows" page for all the details.  my uncle dennis is currently in the process of building a private recording studio in his attic that should be ready for use in about a month or so.  once it's up and running ryan and i will actually be able to record our songs and share them with you all on the blog!  i just know you're all dying to get your hands on the first spinner's end album.. ;P
cheers!  xx ali.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

speak to me.

here's a little inspiration from our setlist for our show tomorrow night.  we're playing a lot of really pretty covers, but these lyrics hold a special place in my heart.  complex metaphors and heightened language definitely have their place and can make very beautiful lyrics.  however, when a song's message is this pure and true, sometimes best way to say what you mean is just to say it.

come with me my love
to the sea, the sea of love
i wanna tell you how much i love you.

do you remember when we met?
that's the day i knew you were my pet.
i wanna tell you how much i love you.

come with me my love
to the sea, the sea of love
i wanna tell you how much i love you.

- "sea of love" arrangement by cat power.

my mom is awesome.

ryan and i have been practicing furiously all week in preparation for our show on friday.  tonight we had a really great writing session - we finally finished a song we've been working on for a while and i'm really happy with the way it turned out.  i'll definitely be posting more on that soon, hopefully with a new video to share.  if you can't tell from my sparse (to put it lightly) blog design, i'm no graphic artist.  but my mother actually works in graphic design.  earlier this week i was lamenting to my mom that ryan and i didn't have any sort of promotional flyer or business card to hand out to people that might be interested in our band.  she played it cool while we were talking and i thought nothing more about it, but then today she handed me these.
our new business cards, designed by ali's mother.
don't they look great?  they're printed on this really lovely paper and are just the right size.  she modified one of my favorite typefaces to include that little music note and even added a spinning wheel.  i'm so thankful that i have a mom who cares enough to take time out of her super busy day to surprise me with something so nice.  i'm really lucky to have her.  now i feel really confident that we have something professional to share with people if they'd like to book us for a show or learn more about our band.

do any of you have moms this cool?  call me biased, but i'm thinking i have the best one.  ;)
xx ali

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

labor day.

happy labor day!  did everyone have a relaxing day off?  ryan and i celebrated by doing a lot of work.  we spend the day cleaning the kitchen, doing a lot of laundry, and practicing our set for friday's show.  we have a whole two hours in which to play and don't have that many finished originals yet, so we're filling out our set with some really fun covers.  ryan and i are writing songs that are heavily inspired by older artists like patsy cline, brenda lee, and otis redding.  we're very inspired by blues and jazz music, and i think our sound definitely reflects that.  since ryan and i were having so much fun picking out which of our favorite songs to play, i figured i'd share some of our picks in a playlist.

xx ali

Saturday, September 3, 2011

good news!

hey there everybody!  ali here, finally crawling out of my self-imposed blogging hiatus with a new post.  can you believe its september already?  this summer absolutely flew by.  things have been a little crazy around here for the past few weeks and i needed to take a little blogging break just to get my bearings.    the good news is i'm back with some fun news to share!

1.  spinner's end has officially booked our first official show!  it's at this cute little cafe called "field of creams" at continental soldiers park, right across the street from ramapo college, in mahwah, nj.  we'll be playing on september 9 from 7pm to 9pm.  information for the show can be found here.  field of creams is also one of the only places in the area that serves bubble tea, a hard-to-find personal favorite of mine.  the cafe serves all kinds of yummy food, from the usual fare like burgers, veggie burgers, and milkshakes to things that are a little more special, like homemade crepes, wildberry smoothies, and the aforementioned bubble tea.  we're the only band playing that evening so if you're in the area pop in and check us out, we would love to see you there!  

2. we got a kitty!
we have a pretty cute record collection, wouldn't you say?
her name is nala and ryan and i could not be more smitten.  she's just the sweetest little thing.  we adopted her through a great organization called FOCAS on august 20 (check out their website for information on adopting or to donate).  she's four months old and her birthday is actually the day before mine.  nala has settled right into life in our small apartment and is ruling over the place like the queen she is.

(please pardon my cellphone pictures)

she's super playful and snuggly and she loves to take naps on ryan's lap!  i just love to hear her little mews and get kisses from her scratchy tongue.

my family are definitely not cat people, so i was never allowed to have one growing up.  nala is my first ever kitty and i just love her so much!  i've always wanted a kitty of my own, and once i picked her up i knew i never wanted to put her down again.

so now that you've seen our pretty little lady, i hope you can forgive me for my blogging break.  ryan and i also went to a really great rubblebucket show a few weeks ago, which i'll be blogging about soon.  i'll be back on monday with a regular blogging schedule once more.  enjoy your labor day weekend, everybody!

xx ali