Universal Love Band


 "Universal Love Band brings audiences dancing to their feet with their uplifting and inspiring roots rhythms. Their eclectic blend of African, reggae and percussive music coupled with positive messages creates an infectious blend of original world music with Heart and Soul."   RadioMilwaukee 88.9


              "Spreading Happiness and Joy with Every Beat"                  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Download CDsRising Sun and World Be Free

  New Healing Sound n Vision Videos from India IN THE TEMPLE and QUIET REVOLUTION




Love is the glue that holds the Universe together  Teilhard de Chardin



see calendar for details




"Lighthearted yet ambitious with a bit of a punk spirit."



Milwaukee is our Home 

We are the children of Great Lakes Culture  

Building a Holy City by the Sweetwater Sea








KT Rusch - Electric Bass, Gamelon Ngoni, Vocals

Deon Sartin - Guitar, Vocals

Jessica Vega Gonzalez - Vocals, Ukelele

Chris Braun - Drum Set

Carl Nichols - Guitar, Vocals

Sarah Korb - Tenor Sax


            Honored Guests:

Bocar Ndiaye - Percussion, Vocals

George Jones - Percussion

Holly Haebig - Vocals

Mandjou Mara- Djembe, Vocals

"The lighthearted yet ambitious sound of Universal Love Band is a fusion of reggae and African music with a bit of a punk spirit... Led by the dreadlocked wonder woman KT Rusch, who navigates her bass guitar with careful love and affection, the eclectic band transcends genres and pigeon holes, instead choosing to produce music for the entire world."    Shepherd Express 2011






"If artists stop making art, the world would collapse, because they have stopped breathing the future of the soul. They would stop breathing art and heart into society."  –Sonbofu Somé




World Be Free     download at Bandcamp

"Universal Love Band @ Club Timbuktu, 6 p.m.

If they played only instrumentals and didn’t sing in English, Milwaukee’s Universal Love Band could be mistaken for a group from somewhere on Africa’s western shore. Relentless Afro-pop rhythms take center stage on their latest album, World Be Free, while the band’s name spells out the message of their lyrics. ULB’s album release party is meant to reflect a sense of community with displays of flower art in the East Indian tradition by Sharada Gudigar and tile-making for the Center Street Peace Post directed by ceramic artist Muneer Bahauddeen. African food will be served. There is no cover but a free-will donation is encouraged."  Shepherd Express pick of the Week. May 2014

RIVERWEST CURRENTS   review June 2014

"World Be Free is a gift from the Universal Love Band to the Community. Complex rhythms permeate themes of transformation and empowerment.  The band connects a wide age range, and diverse cultural backgrounds in friendly, creative, original music collaborations.

This album has been a journey inward and downward, four years in the making and overcoming intense obstacles for each of the band’s members. It is a celebration as well as a mourning of loss. A calling from the roots. A community gift and an intention. It is a question as much as a response.

How can the World Be Free? What am I going to do about my inner peace? How can that spread into an interlocking peace, woven and present with people? When do I call on spirit to help me? How do I let go?

There is always a story to every song. A simple hope to work, play, and dream. Celebrating the good work done. Acknowledging, encouraging, and thanking the Powerful Woman. You are the Master, now make a plan and take a stand. Soothing our inner child and the interconnected child.

Community, light a fire underneath us! Wake up! What are we going to do?

And sometimes the journey is to go to the river, sit, and cry from your enslavements. Let your tears join the waters to wash us. Maybe in the stillness we find our connection and liberation.

It’s going to be all right.

The album is an attempt- a very human attempt- to become more human, get out of our own way. It is a practice of presence. To be, for this one, radiant moment, alive.

We thank you for listening and connecting.

About the band’s name

Why the band name?  The name is a translation of the Sanskrit word maîtri, which means “loving kindness/friendliness”. It refers to abundant feelings of immeasurable kindness. I guess you could call us Maitri Band for short.

Several members of Universal Love Band have a deep, in one case 19-year connection to monk-friends in the Tibetan monastery of Drepung Loseling, now in exile in south India. This spring, KT Rusch and Jessica Vega Gonzalez traveled to the monastery and to rural village Banavasi, playing ULB music on ukuleles for school children and Buddhist monks in exile as well as people we met along the way. 

Members of the band also participate in monthly healing music sessions for people with disabilities.  From United Community Center on S. 9th Street to Right Way Center for Independence on N. 3rd  Street,  we bring music to sites across Milwaukee.  Community outreach has included Express Yourself Milwaukee with whom kt has a ten-year relationship, with some band members participating over the years."





Because if to be free is the most important goal of all, then to help someone else to be or to become free must be the most sublime and rewarding of human endeavors.” Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Laureate, Holocaust Survivor



"Whether its reggae rhythms, afro rhythms or punk rock -- all those influences come together on the album. It kind of morphs as we start to play it and you can see all the different influences and I think that's what makes it world music."   Interview with OnMilwaukee.com

Flower Art by Sharada Gudigar from Banavasi, India

U-Love at The Hole: SINKHOLE Site Hosts Concert WTMJ Newsradio August 2010


Universal Love Band at Music Under Glass Music series at The Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, WI.  Filmed by Trish Kastelic. 2009.

Safara means Fire in the Wolof language of West Africa

"Joyfully aggressive!" Youtube comment


Mitchell Park Domes 2009


Universal Love Band Live at Chill on the Hill, Humboldt Park in Milwaukee, WI. Bilibosa is "Celebrate" in the West African language of Wolof.  Photos from Summerfest  with special guests from Express Yourself Milwaukee.  Special thanks to special guests, Holly Heabig-Wake and Claire Chin Stillman.

"We're Dreamin', Dreamin'.
Where would we be if you take a dream away.
So we're dreamin', dreamin'
We want you, come on, dream with us today."



ULB performing at the opening of the Ozaukee Interurban Bike Trail on a windy fall day in September. First performance of new song "Keep Rolling".. It's all about resilience.

"Oh my mama said...
It's gonna be a jungle
Muddy and Tangled
Your gonna get dirty
Walkin' in bad shoes...

We get Dirty / We Keep Rolling.
Like a Green Bay Packer
We get Dirty / We Keep Rolling."

'The Slits meet the Femmes on the Ivory Coast.'  Youtube comment


YOUTUBE:   Universal Love Band Channel


New Channel

YOUTUBE:   Universal Love Tibetan Singing Bowls Mother's Day Concert for Healing Music in Milwaukee
YOUTUBE:   Universal Love  "Lover Earth" Live from Bangalore India
YOUTUBE:   Universal Love  "Little Star" from New CD Mother's Day Concert for Healing Music in Milwaukee

YOUTUBE:   Universal Love Band - The Movie

Filmed at Port Washington festival.

YOUTUBE:   ULB Milwaukee - Tibet Art Exchange Filmed at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Exile, Mundgod. India.
YOUTUBE:   Universal Love Band -  Feel the Love Lyrics on the wisdom of 'no intrinsic existence'.
YOUTUBE:   Universal Love Healing Music -  BE STILL Edit by Peggy Hong and Sermon on the Revolution in Detroit 
YOUTUBE:   Universal Love Band - Trees for Children Planting Melia Trees in Kitui Kenya. 100% of ownership and profits stay in the village. Music donated in support of the project.
YOUTUBE:   ULB song - Yayu Xale Yi  by kt  Performed by Lucky Diop and Kassumai project with kt at Summerfest.




RISING SUN:   download at Bandcamp

NERVE HOUSE    review

"Stevie Wonder said it best in the opening verse of his 1976 hit "Sir Duke." "Music is a world within itself / With a language we all understand / With an equal opportunity / For all to sing, dance, and clap their hands." This slice of lyrical wisdom applies to the spirit behind the forthcoming concept album "Rising Sun" by Milwaukee’s own Universal Love Band. For anyone who has seen them jam live, you already know KT as the powerful bassist who places her bright, smiling face slightly off center stage as the group performs. It’s a good statement in a day and age when musicians, even politically motivated artists, put too much of their own ego and personality into their performance at the cost of seriously watering down or hamstringing their message.

The band takes a refreshing tack in terms of advancing their own vision of a better world, and sometimes so subtly that the infectious Roots rhythms—that I’ll guarantee will stick in your head long after you’ve listened to the CD—belie the earnestness of their message. The conceptual aspect of the album arises though the combination of their solid grooves, for example on the title track "Rising Sun," with audio soundscapes of the voices of inner city youth, the community members they work hard to reach. Through their work with young adults at Milwaukee’s Juvenile Detention Center and participation in a Summer 2006 Youth Rally Against Homicide, they apply cultural teachings from African traditions with a spiritual sense that is not overtly religious, but is accessible to all. The album boasts lyrical content in roughly a dozen languages, refreshing in a moment in cultural time where monolinguists attempt to bully people into expression in the dominant tongue.

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As with good Roots music, you’ll hear bits and bobs of some of the greats in the genre throughout the album, such as in "Give It To Me" where there is a lovely reworking of a verse from the early 1980s classic "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club that puts a positive spin on the contemplation, "Whatcha you gonna do when you get out of jail?" The extroverted introspection that weaves through the tracks is uplifting and inspiring, bringing a level of joy to the scary enterprise of sorting through one’s beliefs and choosing how to act upon them in the real world.

Be sure to support live shows in the neighborhood and at community events for a group of musicians whose vision is unique not only for Milwaukee, but for the world – and more importantly, the bold, new world to come!"

"Whether its reggae rhythms, afro rhythms or punk rock -- all those influences come together on the album. It kind of morphs as we start to play it and you can see all the different influences and I think that's what makes it world music."   Interview with OnMilwaukee.com

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Live Show Feedback:

"You were awesome — you all were hot and I've been burned by your light and love. Thanks for the positive vibes and the deep lyrics and the good energy. Last night was a blessing and a whole lotta fun. Keep that fire burning." — Sura


"Thank you for being you. There was a lot of love in the room."— Omar

"Keep stirring it up! Really loved your vocals with the group rhythm. Clear, crisp, and refreshing! A fun surprise while on the ground in the Milwaukee area." - Margo, flight attendant
                                                          “I was so engrossed in the music – I forget to order my soup.”  - Carol

"You and your band were fantastic! It has been a long, long time since any group has sparked my big fat *!* to move to music. Thank you! You and yours give a lot of energy. Good sounds! Lots of love!...the finer angels of all were enthralled with your music, your energy, your good love for all."— Godsil


ULB plays original music in an amalgamation of punk spirit, West African and Great Lakes culture. We have an edge, with roots in Milwaukee's early punk scene, yet we reach out to the shores of West Africa.
We are expansive in our influences from Grace Lee Boggs of Detroit to Kungchok Chophel of Tibet:

Music from first CD made it onto independent films, cable tv, non-profit websites, and rocked detention centers, schools and Summerfest.
New CD is entitiled: WORLD BE FREE and the adventure continues with song exchange in rural Indian schools and Tibetan monastery last March.

We are spreading love from the Great Lakes in a Quiet rEVOLution sort of way.

Music is a universal language.  Economics are not a barrier.  Culture is not a barrier.  Age, race, gender are not barriers.   Music can touch all hearts, connect us and unite us.   Today, in this new millennium, we are bombarded with fractionalizing forces -  from nations to neighborhoods, and within our own selves.   Through music, we can sing, dance, create, exchange, and heal together.  We can plant seeds of co-existence and respect.  Our tiny seeds can grow into towering, sheltering trees of life.  Our simple creative acts can initiate a great  leap to solving problems at all levels, because we are certainly an ingenious species.   

Through music we can go beyond co-existence and truly enjoy each other.    Can Muslims and Christians enjoy each other?   We do it every Thursday night in Milwaukee when Universal Love holds a practice session.  How can you make war with someone you sing with?  Can 19 to 50 year olds create together with love and respect?  We do it every Thursday night in Milwaukee.  We are creating a Holy City by the Sweetwater Sea.     kt  





Healing Music Benefit 2013




Special Guests Express Yourself Milwaukee

Summer-small1.jpg (46068 bytes) Summer-small2.jpg (46409 bytes)
SummerfestFest09small.jpg (60149 bytes) A human being is a part of a whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of Nature in its beauty." -Albert Einstein 



Rural Schools in Banavasi, India 2014

Summer0911small.jpg (49120 bytes) "In other traditions demons are expelled externally. But in my tradition demons are accepted with compassion."   -Machik Labdron

Compassion is more emotionally challenging than loving-kindness because it involves the willingness to feel pain.  It definitely requires the training of a warrior."    -Pema Chodron


Thank You -- Chris Braun, Deon Sartin, Bocar Ndiaye, Carl Nichols, Jessica Vega Gonzalez,  Mandjou Mara, Lucky Diop,  and Sarah Korb. Without each of you, there would be no ULB.  Special thanks to Holly Haebig-Wake, Claire Chin, George Jones and Express Yourself Milwaukee for working with us as special guests throughout the years. We thank our family and friends for their support. Thank you to Milwaukee Musicians, Artists and Culture Creators.

Discography for Universal Love Band

Express Yourself Milwaukee "The River" 2006

river1.jpg (30915 bytes)"One River" by KT Rusch and co-produced with Amlak Tafari (Yellow Wall Productions / Steel Pulse) and Express Yourself Milwaukee

Universal Love Band "Rising Sun"  Motherland Recordings 2008

UniversalLoveCover-small.jpg (36261 bytes)

Universal Love Band on "Songs to Save the World" 2008

Universal Love Band on "Concert for Youthaiti" 2010

Universal Love Band on Trees For Children 2010, 2011

Universal Love Band on Homegrown Compilation 2012

Universal Love Band    World Be Free  2014


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African World Festival Milwaukee





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  Deon Sartin                                  Chris Braun

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        Bocar Ndiaye                                 KT Rusch

  electric guitar                                     drum set        percussion, guitar                       electric bass, gamelon ngoni


Express YOURSELF Milwaukee 


Groundwork Milwaukee

Drepung Loseling Educational Fund


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