Review: Flamingo Jazz Plays the Rabbit Hole

On a rainy Wednesday night in downtown Salt Lake City I sought refuge when I slipped down a Rabbit Hole. In that cavernous lair of Wonderland I met a flock (technically, a “flamboyance”) of Flamingos playing Jazz. No, I wasn’t tripping-out on an old, stale, adult gummy I found in my jacket pocket from last year’s visit to Portland. Nope. I was standing in a speak-easy-style-bar-within-a-bar called The Rabbit Hole. It’s the juke joint part of The Lake Effect, on Second South, with nightly live music. 

Utah Jazz always seemed like an oxymoron to me. Except for basketball, there’s no jazz in Utah! Oh contraire! Every Wednesday the Flamingo, a New Orleans style Jazz band perform at The Rabbit Hole, a little slice of Vieux Carre on Second South. The packed mid-week crowd included several couples cutting-a -rug to the brassy swing. Is dancing during the work-week even legal in Utah?  

Celebrating the release of their aptly named debut album The Flamboyance, Flamingo played the record in its entirety. The album is a great re-working of jazz and blues standards with a decidedly New Orleans flavor. It begins with a Dixieland cover of Ray Charles’ “Isn’t it Wonderful” with the lead singer’s crooning reminiscent of Stevie Wonder. They dug deep in the musical archive of the Big Band era for their revival of  Johnny Mercer’s “I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City.” The 1922 AJ Piron jazz dance song “Sister Kate” gets a contemporary boost. Flamingo puts swing in the Pinetop Sparks’ 1935 12-bar blues classic “Everyday I Have the Blues.” Keeping with the New Orleans style they offer a festive cover of Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras.” 

Flamingo’s debut album is a well-packaged renewal of some long forgotten jazz and blues standards and the record captures the essence of their uplifting live performance. The Rabbit Hole feels like a throwback, a cross between a beatnik bar and a 40s vintage nightclub, with comfortable couches and booths. If you’re looking for Jazz, then drop down the Rabbit Hole on Wednesday nights and catch Flamingo. For other musical styles check the Lake Effect calendar for local artists and show times. 

  • Who: Flamingo
  • What: Jazz music in Salt Lake City
  • Where: The Rabbit Hole (Lake Effect) 155 W 200 S SLC
  • When: Every Wednesday Night

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John Nelson
John Nelson
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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