Category Archives: Timor-Leste
Final Day in Timor-Leste
Hello loyal blog readers, Eric here. Our final day in Timor-Leste was one of the highlights of the tour so far. We started the day with a visit to “Arte Moris”, a free art school and commune in the middle of Dili. The story of this place forming after 25 years of Indonesian occupation is fascinating and inspiring- check out what these guys are up to at http://www.artemoris.org
We arrived at the grounds and were very warmly greeted by the whole crew. After getting our sounds right through the PA system, we decided to ditch the microphones and jump down to play some tunes acoustic, up close and personal. After kicking into the first song one thing became very clear watching their reactions- these guys could GROOOOOOVE. The overall energy of Timorese seems to be very raw, loose, and rhythmic, so after we finished our little set we were ready to hear some traditional Timor songs and JAM. To make the vibes even sweeter, about 15 itty bitty kids from the International School came to get down to the music just before the jam started. I’ll let the video speak for itself.
We were given a great tour of the whole Arte Moris before we left, including amazing galleries and exhibitions, living quarters, and library/ media room, an office, music and jam spaces, and living quarters. By far one of the coolest places I’ve been in the world so far.
We finished off our Timor-Leste run with an evening performance at the Sunset Fair, a wonderful weekly happening here in Dili complete with hand-crafted goods vendors and an assortment of delicious food, including Kangaroo (we sadly didn’t get to try it). We ended our set in the appropriate Earth String Band style- joined by five guys from Arte Moris playing a couple of their traditional songs and one of ours. The crowd went nuts. We all retired back to the beach after the show and continued to play music all night, I’m gonna miss the guys! Timor-Leste, beautiful people and a beautiful landscape, truly a hidden gem of country. Now off to South Korea!
From Concert at Ambassador Fergin’s Residence:
Hello Earth Stringband followers,
This is Sam checking in from Timor-Leste. Today was our second full day here in this beautiful, sunny country, and after a late wake up call we had a full day of music ahead of us. After all us boys went out for lunch at the Castaway (our favorite ex-pat-friendly restaurant here in Dili) we came across a local artist selling beautiful handcrafted wooden sculptures and each picked out something to bring back to Brighton. We then went back to the hotel and worked up some fresh new repertoire and geared up for our concert at Colegio Sao Jose, a high school here in Dili.
The energy that we felt from the kids at Sao Jose was absolutely incredible! Even though they were sitting down, the 200 or so highschoolers really got into the vibe once they heard some good ol’ stringband music. The entire time we played the kids were smiling, screaming, and throwing up devil horns and we all had a great time pickin’ and singin’ for everybody. Once we finished our performance some students presented us with traditional Timorese ties and we spent some time passing out Lincoln center swag, signing autographs and taking pictures with everyone before we had to rush off to the next gig, a concert at the International Stabilization Force compound.
Playing for the Aussie and Kiwi soldiers at the ISF was a great experience for everyone and also our way of saying thanks to all the men and women who sacrifice so much to serve their countries. We also had the privilege of eating with Glenn, a 32-year veteran of the Australian army. Not only was the food some of the best we’ve had in the country, we got to pick Glenn’s brain about the military history of Timor and life at the ISF. We played a concert on the back of a huge truck in a hanger on the base, and got to play Soldier’s Joy for an enthusiastic group of Australian and New Zealander soldiers. We had a great time getting to meet lots of the folks at the ISF after the gig and even though we couldn’t bring them any beer (most military bases are dry, and most military folks would love the occasional brew) we were glad to be able to bring some music and provide a little entertainment. Although we’ve only got one more day here in Timor, we’ve got another full day ahead of us tomorrow so I’d better get some shut-eye!
Thanks for reading,
Dili, Timor Leste
Today, we woke up in Timor-Leste, the youngest democracy in Asia. Epic vistas of mountains greet the ocean in a sweeping, beautiful way as they both meet the pure blue sky. As opposed to our experiences with monsoon season in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, here it is hot and sunny with very few clouds. In fact, it hasn’t rained since June and the locals don’t expect any more until December. It’s the dry season here for sure.
In a meeting this morning with Ambassador Fergin, we learned more about the turbulent history of this part of the island and the resilience of its people. Right now is the longest period of peace in recent memory. We are the first American band EVER to tour in Timor-Leste. What an honor!!!
This afternoon, we played for 8-11 year olds in their schoolyard at Farol Primary School. They learn their schoolwork by ear, mostly without books. As we laid down the Earth Stringband MASH under a grass hut, reactions varied from huge smiles to groovy tropical dancing. While some preferred the scattered shade in other parts of the yard, many braved the heat to become part of the show right up front. Growing up in a new country cannot be easy, but these kids are forming their identities and they will be the future of Timor-Leste. We see strong hearts and bright futures!
Once evening hit, we played a concert at Ambassador Fergin’s residence to one of the most incredible collections of people we’ve ever seen. The invite list was tailored to bring mostly Timor-Leste people who are actively working for a better future in this new country and it showed; the attendees included university students who contribute to peace and stability, Rotary members (big and very helpful in this part of the world), people who work for NGO’s, student council members, artists/musicians who we’ll jam with on Friday at Arte Moris, and USAID workers.
The Earth Stringband has been on tour for a while now and it’s starting to show. We’re finishing each other’s sentences in song, together in unison, and playing and listening to each other better than ever. This really translated tonight and the audience got way into our vibe. Ambassador Fergin was dancing up a storm, the Timorese were dancing up a storm, and everyone had a great time celebrating life and music and togetherness between peoples!
in Dili, Timor-Leste
PS. Our internet access is limited so please forgive the lack of extensive multimedia, but we’ll do the best we can!