Kai “Pita” Katobalavu, the lead singer of Unity the Band, was born in Suva City, the capital of the Fiji Islands. In Fiji, there was no formal music curriculum in the schools. By listening to and singing native songs, Kai taught himself to play a wide range of instruments including a wooden drum, called the lali. He also learned the meke, which is a complex combination of voices and dance, and is often used in times of war. Native dance was an integral part of his life. At a very young age, Kai followed his uncle’s band, The Blue Ribbon, based out of Tailevu. This band had a modern sound and opened his eyes to the vastness and power of music.
At the age of 10, Kai heard the album Soul Rebel, by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and discovered reggae had a similar beat to the native music of his islands. It was the message of a colorless existence, and the indefatigable struggle against oppression, that motivated him to pursue his own music. Kai wanted to send a similar message of inspiration, in the Pacific Islands, and became a reggae musician.
In addition to seeing The Blue Ribbon, Kai traveled around the islands and listened to other local bands. At the age of fifteen he heard the first reggae band out of New Zealand, called Herbs, at a Greenpeace assembly, in Suva City. Herbs represented the Pacific Islands, a minority in the world, and gave them a voice; Kai wanted to be part of this.
In 1988, after the first coups in Fiji, Kai moved to the Hawaiian Islands to be close to his parents and pursue a dream of becoming a working musician. He formed a band called the Polynesian Connection that combined reggae, ska, and rock. He also played in several luau bands, but was never fully satisfied.
Then, in 2002, Kai, or Pita, as so many people in the Midwest know him, moved to Wisconsin. There, he found fertile ground where he could continue his music and share his original reggae with a new audience. Wisconsin has provided a generous opportunity for Kai to refine his own sound and also assemble a broad and wonderfully diverse fan base, in the Midwest. Kai hopes he and Unity can become a bridge to his remote part of the world. Kai encourages you to visit his homeland:
Lead Singer & Founder
"Kai - Man"
Anthony Robert Bessen
Anthony Robert Bessen (acoustic & electric guitar, vocals) was born and raised in the Northwood’s of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the majestic porcupine mountains, overlooking Lake Superior; Tony was influenced by the overwhelming peace and serenity that the Northwood’s offer.
At the age of five, Anthony became fascinated with guitar and for years dreamed of the sounds it made and its' endless possibilities for new creation. Anthony finally picked up a guitar as a teen-ager and has never been the same since; continuing to evolve as a musician. Not long after he started his first band he felt the draw of music and the ability to express himself as a musician, and since that time he has been driven to become better every day. He has worked endless hours practicing his craft. He listens to and learns from everyone that has knowledge to offer in the field. Anthony has had the opportunity to learn from some of Wisconsin’s finest musicians.
Anthony has played in bands in the styles of Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Blues, Folk, and even Native American styles; B-side Glitch, the Haight Project, and the Strawberry Jam Band, to name a few. He has toured the Midwest; playing venues like the Rave and Summerfest. He also plays the ukulele, mandolin, and 12 string guitar.
Anthony also spends his free time with others who hold the same passion for music. He is commonly found expanding his musical vocabulary by teaching guitar lessons and exchanging other artistic ideas with fellow musicians.
Influences; LIFE, LOVE, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, and the Beatles
Timothy Perkins (Music Director, upright bass, electric basses, and vocals) has developed his skills as a true all-around bassist. While living and performing for several years in Kansas City he honed his skills as a Classical, Jazz, Rock, and Fusion musician. Tim consistently provides rock-solid bass grooves and is equally able to move into the spotlight with solo work ranging from fluid, lyrical melodies to the energetic speed work and finger gymnastics typically associated with the guitar and saxophone. While actively participating in the classical and jazz scenes in Kansas City, Tim had the opportunity to perform with many of the acts that toured across the United States. An abbreviated list includes such varied groups as Diane Schuur, Daniel Heifitz, Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and The Association.
Tim's approach to bass performance is based on the solid foundation of a classical music education. Earning a Bachelor's degree from Lawrence University's Music Conservatory in Appleton, WI and a Master's degree from the music program at Central Missouri State University, Tim brings a wealth of professionalism and expertise to every project.
Currently based in Green Bay, WI, Tim has actively worked for many years as a session recording artist and performs regularly with a variety of freelance projects. Recent projects include The Outpatients, Vic Ferrari Symphony on the Rocks, Chuck Worm and the NiteCrawlers, Mike Murphy and the Men of Blues, The Lightning Brothers, John Kelley & The Fusion Express Orchestra, and several others. Recent recording projects that highlight his unique approach to the fretless bass include WDKY Jazz and Michael's Saints.
In 2015 alone, Tim's solid bass lines can be heard on the Just Us! - Four Chambers album https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/four-chambers/id1022824715, Helen Exner's - Now and Then album http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/helenexnernowandthen, and of course the new Unity the Band - Sunset Seven album!
In addition to recording audio and video versions of his growing book of original compositions, Tim is currently supporting the development of a new commercial Hard Rock project, Seven Even, which plans its first release in 2017.
Tim brings energy, style and originality to this well-established Roots, Rock and Reggae powerhouse. Tim is excited to hit the road with the message of peace, great vibes and tight grooves that Unity is sharing across the US.
Kelvin Ayres (singer, songwriter, producer and drums/percussion) has been involved in the entertainment business since childhood. Working in the early years with his father, a jazz musician who played and worked with such notables as Producer Tom Tom 84 who wrote and composed horn parts for Earth Wind and Fire and Phil Collins, (guitarist) Phil Upchurch who played with George Benson, (producers) Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy who produced gold and platinum records for Natalie Cole the daughter of the late Nat King Cole, (singer) Johnny Taylor, The Staple Singers, Junior Walker of Junior Walker and the All Stars who were signed to Motown Records and many others.
Because of his family's rich musical influences and being exposed to Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Blues, Reggae and the realities of the music business at such an early age, Kelvin has developed a very unique perspective on what it takes to be a successful entertainer.
Kelvin’s early years consisted of traveling and performing at many political and corporate events and functions throughout parts of the U.S with his family band, The Ayres. During this formative period he developed and honed a style of playing that incorporates aspects of many genres.
His current influences and areas of focus include producers Avicii, Dr. Dre, Calvin Harris, Red One (singers), Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Prince, One Direction, Katy Perry and the writings of Arthur Koestler and Rudolph Windsor.
Current projects include writing and producing Hip Hop and EDM music, and of course, anchoring the tight, rock-solid rythym section of Unity.