When I started covering the local music scene a number of years back, Donna Kay & the Carousers were a familiar face all over town. They were regulars at local music venues, breweries, and special events like Fall For Greenville and Artisphere. Their spin on gypsy jazz made for a unique sound that was always a pleasure to consume, no matter where we found them.
That all changed, however, when Donna Kay’s gyspy soul led her to leave the Upstate for a life on the coast. The pandemic of 2020 caused her to pack up again to be closer to her parents in Virginia, putting her even further away from the Upstate music scene that loved her so dearly. Fortunately, the gap in Greenville shows that began in late 2018 will finally come to an end this Thursday when Donna Kay & the Carousers make their triumphant return to the Upstate with a special show at Quest Brewing Company. The band we have missed will be back with the songs we loved, plenty of new material, and an adjusted lineup that Kay is super excited about.
As all things tend to change when time and distance are involved, this will be a full band set with some brand new contributors recruited from Asheville’s rich talent pool. Kay and Monty Craig are the original anchors of The Carousers and often partners in crime for duet version of the band. Another regular Carouser is Greenville’s own Robert Nance who will be holding things down on bass. New to the crew are violinist Lindsay Pruett of The John Stickley Trio and Gypsy Swingers’ guitarist Mario Piccolo. All of this comes together for an immensely talented lineup ready to make new Upstate memories after way too much time away from home.
Just because Kay has been away from the scene does not mean she has not kept herself busy musically. She has continued to write new music, both on her own and with Craig, and new singles and an eventual EP are in the works. The first of those singles is titled “Free & Easy” which celebrates Kay’s optimism for a brighter mood in 2021. Kay also created her “Lost Introduction” video series to honor and preserve the history of jazz which can be found on The Carousers’ YouTube channel here.
Despite the time away, Kay sees it important to note that this is not so much of a “comeback” but, rather, a “reset”. Greenville is where Donna Kay & the Carousers began and built their fanbase and reputation as an incredibly talented live act. Just because she currently lives in Virginia does not mean she cannot wear out the pavement back to the bands’ hometown for as many shows as they can book as they continue the bands’ story right here in the Upstate. Tomorrow night marks chapter one of that adventure with a monthly Sunday brunch series coming soon at The Velo Fellow. Let the good times roll with Donna Kay hopefully back on the scene for a long time to come.