by Bao Le-Huu
Lorna Lambey (photo by James Dechert)
While our cover story this week is a retrospective on the recently closed local landmark the Red Fox Lounge, perhaps this week’s column can provide a hopeful counterbalance with a new development on Fox cornerstone and legendary lounge singer Lorna Lambey. Her new, potentially regular stand is one short block south at Rocco’s Italian Grille, which just unveiled a new nightly live music schedule last week (Wed-Sat, 8-11 PM).
Lorna leads the ladies at Rocco's
Rocco's is a very different milieu than the straight-up lounge of the Fox. But at her recent debut there (Nov. 8), Lorna – along with fellow Red Fox performer Michael Moore – proved capable of bringing the good times that transform a restaurant bar into a place of life and entertainment like a beckoning and, in this case, swinging campfire. I’m not sure what their normal weekend bar traffic is – this was the maiden week of their extended entertainment hours, after all – but I managed to grab the last open table in the back corner. The place was full of people who were there for not just any entertainment but these performers in particular. The applause told the story. It wasn’t the faint, distracted golf clapping typical of these kinds of settings. This crackle emanated from an engaged, present and tuned-in audience. Moreover, this night skewed toward the older Red Fox fans and not the young tourists, which is better. For this act, I’d much rather roll with the O.G. crowd anyway. They’re proof that the party only stops when you do.
Comparing anything to the sui generis Fox would be unfair, but Rocco’s does feature more room to breathe or – even better – dance, which was nice to see people take advantage of. But if they bring on Lorna as a regular feature, and they should, one thing they’ll need to make this a truly suitable new home for her is a proper spotlight. That kind of atmosphere and marquee names like Lorna could very well turn Rocco’s into a supper club, and that would be a classic nightlife twist that’s a worthy successor to the Red Fox tradition. If you doubt the will of that fire to live on, consider the fact that Red Fox staffers Betty Lombardi and Mark Herrin are now running the bar at Rocco’s. So go fan the flames – Moore performs there weekly and Lorna’s next confirmed date is Nov. 28.
Lorna Lambey and Michael Moore at Rocco's
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