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“American folk music has always had a populist perspective, a vision of music made by the people, for the people. Asheville, North Carolina roots band The Resonant Rogues know this well, for they’ve traveled the byways and highways of America, even crossed the water to Europe and the Mediterranean with instruments and songs in tow. Anchored by the songwriting duo Sparrow and Keith J. Smith, the Rogues have shared songs with train-hoppers in New Orleans, busked on the streets of Budapest, learned Turkish Romani dance in Istanbul, and marched in protest in the hills of Appalachia. Throughout, the stories they’ve heard and the people they’ve met have fueled their music, which abounds with influences like Eastern European Romani brass bands, New Orleans street jazz, old-time stringbands, Woody Guthrie anti-fascist folk, French jazz manouche, and Middle Eastern rhythms. It’s not easy to pull off such a bold combination of genres, but The Resonant Rogues learned this music in person from the people who created it, so they have a tie to each tradition and a working knowledge of what this music means to the ordinary people that make this music every day. It’s a tintype view on the modern world,a cracked image that reflects the past through a prism of the future.” -Hearth Music
In 2014, vocalist and musician Donna Kay decided to shelve her catalog of jazz standards in exchange for starting something old. Very old.
“After years of ‘Top 40 from the ‘40s,’ I wanted to get down to the earlier roots of jazz,” Kay said. “I wanted to channel the energies of the speakeasy, the sordid affairs, the tumultuous years of the Roaring Twenties, Prohibition and the Great Depression,” she said.
The Carousers blend Western Swing, Gypsy Jazz and Boogie Blues into timeless classics and original songs written in the 1920s and ‘30s style.
“I think we play the best music America’s melting pot ever offered, music that’s stood the test of time for nearly 100 years, and it continues to be a crowd pleaser,” Kay said.
The band plays as a four- to six-piece ensemble. The pace is quick, and Carousers’ shows are always high-spirited. Donna Kay leads the caravan on vocals and composition. Monty Craig plays lead guitar and is the primary song arranger. Hans Wolff, native of Germany, plays violin. Veteran bassist Robert Nance is a fan favorite, “who lives in the pocket,” Kay said. Percussionist Kevin Korschgen brings the beats. Guests such as Reed Miller, Charles Hedgepath and Grant Cuthbertson have played rhythm guitar with the ensemble, and Mark Rapp has been a guest on trumpet.
The Carousers’ first CD, entitled “Possessed,” was released in February, 2017. The songs encompass all three of the band’s genres. “Temper My Love” is a driving blues number that delves into unrequited love. “I Don’t Think I Love You” is a jazz swing tune that playfully moves between emotional doubt and certainty. The title track, “Possessed,” is a gypsy-style romp about that Demon named Love.
The Carousers love that they can cross genres, turn back the clock, and present an authentic, fun vintage sound that today’s modern audiences are embracing.