||how did you get started playing music?
young, music was uplifting and hopeful in times of high childhood stress.
i lost my mother to cancer
at the age of six. music, rhythm, lyrics, and the
sounds of Nature-- i believe these kept me from being pulled
apart by deep trauma. childhood events solidified the idea of impermanence at the most
fundamental level-- your own mother who cares for you like no
one else is now gone, and though i could not explain at
the time, music soothed me and brought me to a place of
non-verbal connection with the greater universe and that is
where i found comfort.
in spite of the early childhood earthquake
and all the wild aftershocks, i found two old 8-track tapes that
were discarded on the street when i was about 10 years old. 8-tracks were out, and
cassettes were in. ever the scavenger, i took them home: Bob Marley "Live"
and Elmore James "King of the Delta Blues".
i didn't even have an
8-track player, but later found one, on the street again. i played those tapes over and
over, and also The Beatles "White Album", because my Dad had it
along with some other great old albums. "Within
You / Without You" by George Harrison was a favorite song.
i listened to that song over and over and had the lyrics taped inside my desk at school.
i listened to the radio. as kids,
we didn't have any money to buy records. maybe we
received a record or
two for birthdays. i remember buying Jesus Christ Superstar for about $4.99
at the White Hen Pantry. Later, i discovered used record stores.
first purchase -
"Moonflower" by Carlos Santana.
began playing guitar
and writing songs in about 6th grade. i used to try to
multi-track record using two old
Panasonic tape recorders. later, friends persuaded me to try out for high school jazz
band. so i spent a summer learning jazz chords and stylings and surprisingly, made
the band the following Fall. i was the only female in the rhythm section.
that time, girls were not playing electric guitar or bass.
i will always be
thankful to Dominican High School and Mark Kleckly, jazz teacher.
summer, i auditioned for Summer Street workshops and joined an all-city high school group
led by Milwaukee saxophonist Berkeley Fudge
that practiced daily at WASHINGTON PARK in Milwaukee. Berkeley asked me to
join the Inner City Arts Council jazz band as a bass player.
we played on Monday nights on 6th and North Av. In high school, we formed an original music group, Jazz
Elevators and i remember making everyone music folders with
our colors --
red and yellow. we had a killer horn section. we
wrote original music. this project kept us all out of further
trouble. we were good kids who basically liked
adventure, to say the least.
What other early band experiences did
in the early 1980s,
i attended Marquette University's College of Engineering for about a year.
my heart was not with attending university though, it was in
musical expression which i did in every moment of spare time with
our alternative band. i channeled a lot of energy through
the bass. deep, chakra grounding universal outpourings of
sound. looking back, it was about letting go of
childhood and youth injustices and not just my own. i felt other's pain and wanted to ground out all of
an opportunity came to go down south to play and record with Einsteins
Riceboys. i was only 19, but decided that school could wait until later.
Riceboys was an intensely creative, independent group known for originality and energetic
performances. we were on the verge of national recognition with radio airplay everywhere
when things broke down. overall, it was a great experience. Riceboy's recordings
were on the cutting edge of the emerging digital technology and
collectors items today. a lot of stories here, too many to
i went back to
college to complete a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and to revisit favorite energy
transformation classes such as electromagnetic fields and thermodynamics.
classes with Ko Thi African Dance Company. most importantly, i discovered the practice of
T'ai Chi Ch'uan with Grandmaster Ch'ian Ho Yin.
open, meditative movements were an
awakening. i began to tune in to the vibrations of the human body's organs and ch'i
meridians. in awe of the potential for healing and happiness (embodied in Master
Yin) and the healing aspects of sound, energy, and ch'i,
i left the late night music scene and focus on the practice. i
realized i could help
myself and others. later in the early 1990's, I joined
T'ai Chi Ch'uan
Center of Milwaukee and continue the practice (including teaching) to this day.
i also study and practice Iyengar style Hatha Yoga. i began studying meditation with H.H. 14th Dalai Lama in
1996. always thankful to my teachers for sharing their
experiences and wisdom.
I heard you
moved to the East Coast. Why?
moved to Boston to work
for Raytheon Corporation as a radar engineer on Patriot Missile Defense System and
projects. the original GPS frequencies were secret back then.
i still have them
memorized. now everyone has GPS. my heart was not at
the military-industrial complex, but I do not regret the
experience. i needed to live this side of world culture.
i needed to pay rent. i also needed musical community and found Nerve Ring, an 11-piece performance art group.
we did an amazing piece
on Evolution at the Institute for Contemporary Art and recorded a fine music video too,
but the set got shut down by the police. and, i discovered Ibrahim Camaras Cambridge
drumming circle. Ibrahim gave me my first djembe drum.
back then, women didn't play
djembe for traditional reasons. but Ibrahim had all the Boston women playing
djembes. he was so welcoming. we had a riotous musical fellowship
going in Cambridge on Wednesday nights with people of all
nationalities, ages, genders and beyond. music can weave the whole
fabric of humanity together. music can create a space for
common ground. sharing music is a launching point for
greater communication and problem solving. it's possible there
were some aliens represented there too, haha.
returned to Milwaukee
in the late 1980s, to work for a small Biotech company. we were using light energy for
diagnostic purposes, for example, using infrared light to see through the skin
in order to measure glucose levels in diabetics. we did projects with ultrasound and
hydroponics for the NASA space station. whether it's sound
or light, its all electromagnetic spectrum.
can heal. sound can destroy (for example, ultrasound taking out
E.coli bacteria in solution). Swami Yogananda said that sound
and vibration are the most powerful forces in the universe.
energy moving - what does it
Did you get
back into music?
needed to leave 'civilization', too much to explain
here. i needed to hear Nature speak without any
interference. i wanted to be a far as possible from human
be-ings, but not divorced from the rest of life and the
i went to Brazil, first the south, but then made my way to the
Amazon. ultimately, i meditated in the heart of
the Amazon, north of Manaus. i learned so much there.
i wanted to stay, but came home. after marrying
Sheldon Rusch, writer and Iyengar yoga instructor, formed Zebra Muscle, a five-piece original,
percussive group. we produced recordings, videos, and gave
energetic live performances. Then, all was on hold with the birth of our
daughter in 1993. as a new mother, focusing on family and parenting was top
at that time,
i did some
part-time field research in hummingbird communication with Dr. Millicent Ficken and Dr.
Carolyn Pytte at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
our work was published in The
Condor, The Auk, Animal Behaviour, The Passenger Pigeon, Natural History, National
Geographic and others. i did many hours of Nature recording at this time.
amazing discoveries by slowing down the super sonic / fast hummingbird
vocalizations and then applying pattern recognition
techniques. i will always
cherish the quiet time spent at sunrise -- recording birds and ambient sounds.
Sheldon and i had another daughter and a son. music really slowed down
for me with the
expanding family, especially playing with others. i was able to continue writing
songs and occasionally performed as a solo bass poet. the Internet was emerging and
selections from self-produced recordings "Inside-Out" and "Natural"
received international radio airplay on three continents. that was nice
feedback considering i never left the Great Lakes.
are the signals and systems of communication in Nature?
Deep Listening - can we do it? what is the message and can we
interpret it? non-ordinary reality - can we listen, know,
experience, learn? and not as an effect of a synthetic or
natural substance-induced state.
What is New
when the kids were young,
i self-published a group of poems in a handmade natural binding entitled "New
World Mammal", and donated all proceeds from the book to Foundation for Children
in Need. i created a "New World Mammal" door that is currently on
display at Club Timbuktu in Milwaukee. the holistic
project was about the interconnectedness of Nature,
impermanence, change and universal love. at that time, i
also teaching community drumming circles for children ages 5
through 13 and creating original soundscape recordings for a dance company in
the Eagle River school system. i began condensing the idea
of universal love music, healing through compassion, and found
the Tibetan Singing Bowls (or did they find me?).
And now you are
back playing live music with Universal Love Band?
all-out labor of love. we
have synergy and we really enjoy playing together.
The name says it all and the Music is the Medicine. i also play/facilitate Mali Blues with Tani Diakite and for the past
nine years, i have been contributing to Express
Yourself Milwaukee, a
non-profit group that facilitates healing artistic expression for
youth. i have been working with youth for the last few years in the Wisconsin
Correctional System with various music/visual arts partnerships.
. we started a
monthly music group at Children's Hospital Wisconsin in
2011. we take music right to the
bedside of the kids. now, Universal Love Healing
Music takes the music to people
with disabilities, rehab, frail elders and others who can't
easily get out. we play positive, tropical-vibe songs
and end our sessions with Tibetan Singing Bowls. this
project is about friendship, sharing music and cherishing
others -- whoever they may be in the moments we spend together.
we have played for babies in comas, 90 year olds, people with
dementia, head injuries, people with serious chronic
conditions who must go to Adult Day Care, kids quarantined
with infectious disease, and the list goes on and on. we just
open our hearts and play. we create a warm circle of
musical Love - the best that we can.
keep going because i have witnessed the positive effects of
creating a space together with the power of sound. i
sincerely hope to be of benefit to others. maybe it is just simply making someone some good food and
playing a song. that is all.
MUSIC BETTER LIFE
i hope my kids can learn from me regarding art/music:
your best with your teammates. in my case, with
dedication to bandmates and responsibility to the audience.
in my case, with positive music, service projects.
honest. Be loyal. Find common ground, and enjoy
together, even when its challenging.
art is just one aspect of your life as a whole.
favorite times this decade with the music
Sharing and jamming with Garifuna
drummers in Belize. Performances with Amlak Tafari, bassist with Steel Pulse and
co-production of The River CD for Express Yourself Milwaukee. Getting
the youth up on stage at Summerfest. Getting
to know Jamaican legend Mickey Dread before he passed away. Opening for Mali's world music
ambassadors at Summerfest - Amadou and Marium 2x. Learning to play gamelon ngoni (African
harp) special thanks Tani Diakite. Recording
our CD "Rising Sun" and bringing it to Drepung Loseling Tibetan
refugee monastery in India. i had a master mix with me when
meet H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama in India. We also co-created
an art project with Tibetan refugee youth and Express Yourself Milwaukee youth. See
YouTube of Tibet Milwaukee Art Exchange.
Releasing World Be free CD. New music with UNIVERSAL
LOVE BAND! We have three women musicians now and it is
really wonderful. Songs like Quiet Revolution and
||Music is medicine:
rid yourself of frustrations
and get aligned to your inner smile.
Expression through the arts is a powerful force for
positive change on personal and societal levels and collaborating with others widens the circle. We can develop our
selves and then share with others our family, our neighborhood, our city
will all benefit from our creative partnerships.
I thank my teachers for your gifts of
wisdom and encouragement. I hope to give to others as much as you have given to me.
Special thanks to
encouraging friends and family members.
Some Personal Notes:
I am not a natural performer. I was born with a quiet,
somewhat shy temperament. Without going into detail, I didnt talk much, certainly
didnt sing, and spent many hours in a quiet sadness during
parts of my childhood. But I always had a
desire to share the songs I heard in my heart. So I began writing them down and learning
guitar. It took a long time to find the courage to first play music and later share
Ill never forget Steve Wahlen from an early band,
Einsteins Riceboys, saying: Get on the mic and sing! In response, and
not to be disrespected by a singing drummer, I put out two words from the song
Essence Rare by Gang of Four. As I recall the line was
And that was it for vocals with Riceboys.
Over the years, so many projects, shows,
and bandmates-- some of whom broke out to higher
heights and gold records, and some who didn't make it very far. Creative arts can be punishing to
body and soul on many levels. A lot of blood, sweat and more sweat between playing in the
early 1980's music scene and today. Always hoped to create
or give music and sound that helps others.
Now, I sit in a room at a Milwaukee Public Schools
Transitional High School with so many beautiful, young, energetic faces doing what I call
community service music. A security guard nearby, ankle bracelets under baggy
pants, an undercurrent of distrust yet curiosity. Gang talk. Drug talk.
Swearing. Anger. Bullshit. And the best part
dream talk - little golden nuggets of dream talk. How do I
know? Because we eventually become engaged in
conversations of the future and inevitably some little sliver of
positive light emerges in the greater matrix of what is being
said. When the light comes I
see it, and run with it - turn
it into a song if possible. Hear it and acknowledge it,
the least I can do. Affirm it.
A retired social worker told me last year, These are
the worst kids in Milwaukee.
Sometimes they give me a hard time, no need to describe the
details here. Thats part of the challenge. I know where they come from heavy
burdens, shaky foundations. Thats part of our challenge,
theirs and mine
We play some music. We talk about lyrics. We watch global
music culture videos. Some of us play. Some of us walk out (but I notice the walk-outs
slyly observing from across the room). Some of us sleep. Some of us absorb the
situation in ways that dont make sense because this isnt a typical classroom.
At our last class this session, Lucky Diop and I brought a
little sound system, an African Kora and Ngoniboth are stringed harps, my bass, and
two vocal mics. We took turns playing. We played to a somewhat unruly audience. But still
an audience. What happened to the guy who taught you to sing that song? one
youth asks Lucky. He died of TB. Whats that? The questions
and answers go forth on many tangential subjects. One youth
notices that my ngoni has a
soundhole. He notices a photo inside the hollow gourd. Who is that? He
reach in. I say- my mother. Then he backs off in a mixture of respect and subsequent
distraction. The mic feeds back. He wants to be on the
microphone, but doesn't know what to say. I decide to play Yayu Xale Yi
which means Mother of the Children in Wolof, a West African language. I
sing the English translation. I dedicate it to all our mothers. The room
goes silent for
a few moments. Later we open up the mics for the youth and
give them a background
foundation beat to express themselves. Wonderful, messy,
gritty, honest expression.
Xale Yi, I realize today that I have had to make myself vulnerable again and again
over the years to grow. I am thankful for the opportunities to evolve into a community
service musician in Milwaukee. I thank musician friends and
partners for being here together on the mission.
On being a mother who plays music:
So difficult to find the balance point. I have
"retired" in my mind, many times, felt the music wasn't being given enough time
to be 'good', felt my family was short-changed by my practice time, felt
the stress of work, felt guilty, tired, double-booked, and finally exhausted.
I came to the point of surrendering timely goals and transforming my
attitude to a long term approach because children grow up quickly and parental presence is
crucial. In the end, it is all matter of loving
kindness and generosity. Did I help someone today? Was I
kind to others. Have I assisted others along the path of
this journey called life? That is all.
your Heart through the World like a Life-giving Sun!
Rice QL Records 1983
EINSTEIN'S RICEBOYS Civil Rice (QL Records,
Inc)-- "When the Violent Femmes appeared from (of all
places) Wisconsin, most everybody hailed them as strikingly
original. Now with the appearance of Einstein's Riceboys
LP we might be witnessing the emergence of a "Wisconsin
Sound." Pumping bass, intense vocals and enthusiasm pushed
to the limits are the trademarks. Einstein's Riceboys'
sound is fuller and more controlled than the Femmes, making use
of electric instruments, sixties-style keyboards, and
reverberated guitar to shape their style. If I were from
Wisconsin, I'd be proud! Fave cuts: "Time and
Insomnia", "Electric Chair" and "Bloated
Life." New Music Report College Music Journal 7/31/1983
Einstein's Riceboys "Out-takes"
2721 Bird Avenue
There's only one drinking establishment east of U.S. 1 (where
Bird Road becomes Bird Avenue) that bears mention, but it is
perhaps the ultimate Bird Road bar. That would be Flanigan's
Loggerhead, formerly the Trysting Place and before that the
legendary flashpoint of Miami's burgeoning alternative rock
music scene, 27 Birds.
"27 Birds; what a place," writes Jeffrey
Lemlich in his book Savage Lost, which traces the colorful
history of South Florida garage bands. "One night it's
the Front and the X-Conz. The next night it's the U.S. Furys
(with Isaac from the Reactions)...or maybe the Throbs...or
maybe even Einstein's Riceboys (from Milwaukee),
immersing the audience with 'Milk of Amnesia.'"
of Einstein's Riceboys (Austin, TX)
Zebra Muscle "Zebra
Muscle - 9 Songs" Self-produced 1989 with Video
Self-distributed 1994 Radio Airplay on 3 continents.
KT Rusch "Natural"
56th Street "Ethiopia
Sessions" Self-produced 2005
Express Yourself Milwaukee
"The River" 2006
"One River" by
KT Rusch and co-produced with Amlak Tafari (Yellow Wall Productions / Steel Pulse) and
Express Yourself Milwaukee
Mali Blues Group
"Live from Madison and Milwaukee" Motherland Recordings (BMI)
KT Rusch "Sound on
Film - Music inspired 'Panacea' and 'The Parricide Sessions' "
Universal Love Band
"Rising Sun" Motherland
Universal Love Band on "Songs
to Save the World" 2008
| Universal Love Band on
for Youthaiti" 2010
Universal Love Band on Trees
For Children 2010, 2011
Universal Love Band on Homegrown
local Organic Co-ops.
with Tani Diakite "Live 2012"
||Every small act of compassion
brings you and I one step closer to love.
Every small act of forgiveness
brings all of us one step closer to world peace.
Every small judgment between us
leads us down a road of division.
Every small judgment
compounds all of us to war.
Every act of forgiveness,
leads us one step closer to unity.
Every act of compassion
brings you and I one step closer to love.
2007-10 Essays and Poetry MilwaukeeRenaissance.com,
of Martial Arts and Healing,
Vol 2, No 2.
a Space” Journal
of Martial Arts and Healing,
Vol 2, No 1.
Path-Is-All-That-Is”, “Embrace the Tiger” Journal of Martial Arts and Healing,
Vol 1, No 2.
2003 “Regulation of Vocal
Amplitude by the Blue-throated Hummingbird (Lampornis
(C. Pytte, K. Rusch, M. Ficken).
“Reproductive Behavior and Communication in
Vol 114 No 2:197-209 (M.
Ficken and K. Rusch).
“Piggyback Flight Display of the Ruby-throated
Passenger Pigeon Vol
63 No.4 :299-301 (K. Rusch)
of Agonistic Vocalizations in Ruby-throated Hummingbirds with
a Comparison to Black-chinned Hummingbirds”
Vol.113 No. 4: 425-430. (K. Rusch, K. Thisius, M. Ficken).
the Canyon” Natural
History Magazine, Vol 110 No. 6 (K.Rusch).
Hummingbird Song: A Pinnacle of Non-oscine Vocalizations”
The Auk, Vol.
117:120-128. (M. Ficken, K. Rusch, D. Powers,S. Taylor).
Hum About” National
Geographic Vol 197 No. 2 (Earth Almanac).
Digest Vol 21 No. 6. (K. Rusch)
of Agonistic Vocalizations of Black-chinned Hummingbirds”
The Condor 98:
557-566. (K. Rusch, C. Pytte and M. Ficken).
Fiber Optic and Emission Spectrometry for Simultaneous
Multiple Component Analysis in Groundwater",
The Sixth National Outdoor Action Conference of the
National Groundwater Association,
Las Vegas, Nevada (B. Beemster, K. Schlager, C.
Bergstrom, and K. Rusch).
Control of Bacteria and Other Microbes in Hydroponic Plant
Nutrient Solutions", International Conference on Life
Support and Biospherics, Huntsville, Alabama (K. Schlager and
Emerging Techniques for On-line and In-situ Monitoring of
13th AESF/EPA Conference on Environmental Control For
the Surface Finishing Industry, Orlando, Florida (B. Beemster,
K. Schlager, C. Bergstrom, and K. Rusch).
Independent Chapbook Production:
“New World Mammal” 2005
“New World Mammal Door”
acrylic, latex and natural objects, currently on
display at Club Timbuktu - Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Original Film Score:
Film Festival screenings:
Parricide Sessions” (Video, 75 min., 2007)
New York Newfest
2007, Santa Fe Film Festival 2007
“Panacea” (16mm, B&W, 13 min., 2006)
Festival 2006, Milwaukee Shorts Film Festival, Turin Film Festival 2006,
Festival 2006, Lisbon Film Festival 2006