The launch of D'Tour has been hailed an amazing success as local Timor-Leste musician and permaculture activist Ego Lemos together with the R&B boys from the Northern Territory B2M, rocked Dili’s Mercado Lama in front of a local crowd of 3,000 on Saturday 17th September.
From the moment B2M arrived in Timor-Leste to meet Ego Lemos and his 200-strong gathering of Timorese volunteers to kick off the first ever D’Tour concert, a powerful connection between two indigenous groups was clearly being forged. Throughout the 5 days of workshops, school visits, cultural exchange and music collaboration - which culminated in a free concert broadcast live on national TV to an audience of over 150,000 in both East and West Timor - Tiwi Island’s B2M had their first opportunity to engage and collaborate with their nearest overseas neighbours.
Exchanging stories of trial to triumph, and of the constant need to defer to the past, deal honestly with the present, & shape the future; they discovered and explored the shared experiences of two remote communities and the potential lessons they had to offer the broader community through the global language of music. The message: Care for the Land, Care for the People, Care for the Future.
Under the stars on a warm Dili evening, Nobel Peace Laureate, Timor-Leste President and D’Tour’s Honorary Patron, HE Dr José Ramos Horta, arrived by mini-moke to officially open the event. Delivering a rousing endorsement of the event’s theme, he urged audiences everywhere, as individuals, to dare to make a difference.
D’Tour’s International Patron, HE Kirsty Sword-Guzmão, gave a welcome address and the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Miles Armitage, joined the line up of dignitaries who all acknowledged the importance of this event for both countries.
The Ego Lemos A4 Band pumped out a big sound accompanied by the beautiful harmonies of Timor Voices, as the APRA award-winning singer-songwriter treated the audience to two new songs in English (yet to be released) including ‘Its My Right’. Charged with enthusiasm from their introduction to Dili, B2M took to the stage with their catchy R&B pop and signature Tiwi sounds giving the local audience plenty of opportunity to dance the night away. All musicians came together to perform each other’s songs in a high-energy encore, which included Ego Lemos’s debut album title track, O Hele Le, to close an amazing concert.
An all-day expo was held at the concert site, themed ‘For Earth’ as local & international Timor-based organisations showcased their activities and messages about climate change. The whole venue was ‘dressed’ with an amazing array of colourful, funny & thought-provoking art installations made that morning from rubbish collected en route to the venue by 150 youth from a local organisation called ‘Permascout’, working under the direction of local arts cooperative, Luirai Foer.
Amongst the many highlights over days of cross-cultural activity and skills exchange, was a visit to a local organisation Ahi Suan that cares for disabled youth. The group surprised their NT visitors with two original songs they had been rehearsing. So taken by the talent and dedication of this group, B2M plan to fundraise back at home on the Tiwi Islands to send new instruments and equipment to the Ahi Suan Disability Foundation.
“We are completely humbled by our time in Timor. The warm welcome and the amazing effort put into introducing us to this beautiful country and sharing our culture and music with its people has been an amazing experience for us Tiwi boys” B2M Band Leader, Jeffery ‘Yellow’ Simons.
The band have returned home to their remote NT communities, with a strong connection to their Timorese colleagues who can be credited with the organizational success of the event in Dili, leaving no doubt in everyone’s mind that D’Tour has the potential for great outcomes in both Australia and Timor-Leste as it is builds into a major regional and international event in coming years.
"The D'Tour concert was an unqualified success. The bringing together of Timor-Leste & Australia through music was inspiring to watch as was the dedication of the Timorese crew and the genuine affection between B2M and the Timorese people was something special to be involved in. A new era of social, artistic and cultural engagement between Timor-Leste and northern Australia was born on the 17th September 2011" Skinnyfish Managing Director, Mark Grose
"Tonight's concert is about collaboration: collaboration between two bands, two peoples and two countries. It's about sharing, learning from each other, mutual respect and combining talents to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. It is this type of collaboration that we should aspire to in all aspects of relations between Australia and Timor-Leste" Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Miles Armitage
"This is a great initiative from the Dili-Darwin Music Alliance, timely and highly-relevant to two communities striving to heal the physical, social and, indeed, spiritual wounds caused by the degradation of their environments, and to renew an embattled ancient tradition of a respectful, peaceful & honorable relationship with nature, and care for the future... Through the global language of music, B2M and Ego Lemos, representing just two indigenous communities of many across the world, speak with a united voice that simply asks all of us, individually, to care about climate change and dare to make a difference." President of Timor-Leste, HE Dr José Ramos Horta
The 2011 D’Tour launch & For Earth Expo were made possible due to support from:
The Forrest Family Foundation; Skinnyfish Music; Airnorth; The Australian Govt. Department for Foreign Affairs & Trade
The Office of the President; Permatil & The Permascout Movement; Ministry of Tourism, Commerce & Industry; Oxfam/Grow Campaign; Caritas Australia; Trocaire; Enterprise Timor-Leste, the Luirai Foer Arts Cooperative, and RTTL (the national broadcaster of Timor-Leste)