BACKTRACKS: A family affair

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Maria, Jan, Taione and Leba Kaloucava at their home in Nadera. Picture: IAN CHUTE

If you follow The Fiji Times Facebook page, and were scrolling through your newsfeed on New Year’s Day, you would have come across a video of a family band playing at Namadi, in Suva.

They were the Kaloucava Family Band, made up of Taione Kaloucava, his daughters Leba and Jan, his brother Alden Kaloucava, niece Maria, and his friend Atu Luvena.

They formed their little band during the fi rst COVID-19 pandemic lockdown to earn money through virtual fakawela to make life a little easier to bear.

Originally from Nadoi, Rewa, with maternal links to Wainika, Tawake, Cakaudrove, the 50-year-old is no stranger to Fiji’s live music scene.

Ironically, during his childhood, he had no interest in music.

His parents, Pateresio Kaloucava and Mereoni Vuiyasawa, were teachers and moved around the country quite a bit.

“As a child in primary school, I was never really interested in music,” he said. It was rugby that got him going.

“I was more interested in playing rugby, more into sports than music.”

He caught the musical bug while he was at St John’s College in Cawai, Ovalau, after receiving a present from his father.

“When I was in Form 5 at St John’s College, my father bought me a keyboard and I kept it with me in the dormitory.

“After studies at night, me and the other boys in the dormitory would pull out the keyboard and have a go at singing a few songs before we went to bed.

“For me, my love for music started during these little dormitory jam sessions.”

In 1988, he was part of a band that was formed at St John’s College called the Grasshoppers. He was on keys.

“A few years after I left school when my parents were teaching at Moturiki, my father got a call from Master Iliesa Baravilala, one of our great Fijian composers.

“He called my father up and asked if I could go on a tour of Viti Levu with Jimmy Subhaydas.

“So I went with Master Baravilala and Jimmy Subhaydas and did a couple of shows around Viti Levu.”

He said in 1990 he saw an advertisement in The Fiji Times for the National Youth Band.

“At this stage, I was still learning, but I applied anyway, and I got in, but I didn’t finish my time there.

“With the National Youth Band, I just spent the first few months.

“I think I was there for just two terms and we were just doing theory, musical theory.

“In the short time that I was there, I didn’t really play an instrument.

“In 1991 there was a youth band formed at the Nadera Catholic Church, called YOLOFA, which stood for Youths of Our Lady of Fatima.

“They asked me to join, and so I did.”

Though short, he says his time in the National Youth Band and the YOLOFA were the platforms that acted as stepping stones for him to join the Fiji Police Band in 1994.

“I was trained as a keyboard player, but I was still learning.

“It was a way of building my foundation until I joined the Fiji Police Band.”

He stayed and played with the Fiji Police Band for a couple of years before relocating to join a Nadi-based band known as the Hotshotz.

Taione joined Emosi Lomata, Jason Kouka, and brothers – Joseph, Sirilo and Paula Daurewa – serenading guests at the Warwick Resort for about five years. Until COVID-19 struck, he played with a band called Powerplay at the Hilton Resort on Denarau.

He has played for One2Eight as well as Makare and has been freelancing since the onset of COVID-19.

“Towards the end of 2020, me and some friends started a band called Six Pence and recorded two singles.”

Also, last year, he was involved with another band put together by a few friends called Voqa Talei kei Nasova.

And today, he has his family band.

“You see, I’ve learnt a lot from my musician friends all these years and it is great to play alongside the legends in Tom Mawi, Ken Jansen, Ratu Jo Tabakaucoro, Bigwilz, Knox Kalounisiga, Nem and Talei, Simi Rova, Etika Logavatu, Master Iliesa Baravilala and Jimmy Subaidas to name a few.”

For now, he is enjoying life – and music – at home with his family. As he puts it, the icing on the cake is playing with his brother and friend to complement the angelic voices of his daughters and niece, who are more than happy to be helping out at home and doing something they love at the same time.

“On New Year’s Day, we were invited to play at Namadi. “Since the restrictions were eased, we have been invited to a number of places to play, but it all started with our live videos.

“I’m very proud to be doing this with my daughters, my niece, my brother, and my good friend.

“Atu plays the bass guitar and Alden plays the guitar, but he is also a good keyboard player.”

When asked whether he would get together and reconnect to play with some of the friends he’s made along the way, he said, “Maybe, we’ll just have to see where it goes.”

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