at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Dili Allstars


Apps-Google-Music-Metro-iconSong: Liberdade by Dili Allstars from the album The Best of Dili Allstars (2010). Visitors can listen to the Featured Song by clicking the play button above.

The Dili Allstars are an Australian and East Timorese reggae/ska band based in Melbourne. They are one of the leading voices of support for the East Timorese people and a popular musical group. The band has released two albums, a special edition Portuguese tour CD, an EP, titled Increase the Peace and also tracks for the ARIA award winning Balibo soundtrack album and the Australian Canadian tele movie Answered By Fire. The band has also contributed tracks to the Kids Under Cover, This Is The Place For A Song, Love From A Short A Distance, All In The Family and Liberdadebenefit albums.

The Dili Allstars were formed when Paul Stewart and Colin Buckler (of the notable band Painters and Dockers) contacted East Timorese musician Gil Santos to record a song to protest the capture of East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmão by Indonesian armed forces in the early nineties. This song was a version of Rose Tattoo’s ‘We Can’t Be Beaten’, sung in bothTetum and English. Both Santos and Stewart had had a long involvement with the East Timor struggle as they had lost a father and a brother, respectively, in the Indonesian invasion of 1975.

Before the 1999 Independence referendum, the band recorded the original track ‘Liberdade’ and six other songs in response to hearing that the Governor of East Timor was playing pro-Indonesian songs at Dili airport. With the help of Melbourne University students, 500 tapes were smuggled into East Timor. The songs had a wide exposure during the lead up to the election, and remain strong in the Timorese memory today. After the referendum, Gusmão visited Melbourne and joined the Allstars on stage at the National Tennis Centre. At this stage, the band included current members Paul Stewart, Gil Santos and Paulo Almeida. However, it also included drummer Steve Morrison (who stood in for and recorded in place of Colin Buckler while he was overseas), trombonist/vocalist Sonja Parkinson, saxophonists Billy Abbott & Jenny Pineapple, keyboardist Cheryl, guitarist/backing vocalist Paul Calvert and bassist Nelito Ribero.

After Paulo Almeida, Colin Badger, Tim Stewart and Daniel Golding formed world music outfit Sol Nation, Paul Stewart and Gil Santos were employed as musical consultants on the 2009 film, Balibo. The Dili Allstars then performed at East Timor’s first ever media awards along with Osme Gonsalves and Mali from Galaxy Band. A new line up of the The Dili Allstars, including ex-Daddy Cool guitarist Ross Hannaford, original members Nelito Riberio (bass) and Mark Grunden (drums), Painters and Dockers’ trumpet player Dave Pace and sax player Clare Murrell, Balibo movie actor and rapper Osme Gonsalves, percussionist Zeca Mesquita, Gil Santos and Paulie Stewart went into the ABC studios at Southbank, Melbourne to record a new version of theGraham Parker punk classic “Hey Lord Don’t Ask Me Questions”. Produced by Chris Thompson, this was included on the Balibomovie soundtrack. In his role as musical consultant, Stewart later accepted the 2009 ARIA award for “Best Soundtrack” album.

In 2010, members of The Dili Allstars visited [[Papua New Guinea and USA to talk about the band’s work. Band members Paulie Stewart and Gil Santos also visited São Paulo in Brazil to support the screening on the BALIBO Movie. It was later voted by the public as “most popular” film at the film festival.]] Later that year, ABC Music approached the band to release a career retrospective, The Best Of The Dili Allstars. This is out now on ABC Music.

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