Enigmatic, present in the moment, with grunt on Thursday nights

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By RACHEL McFADDEN

 

It’s a Thursday evening and as Todd Mall prepares to close for trading, Anthony ‘Tilla” McIlwain and local musician Darcy “D-Day” Davis (above, at the launch of Revolution Day), set up for a new venture, Thursday’s Late Night Shopping.

 

One is reflective, the other charismatic but they both have soul, a love of music and a desire to share their passion with the people of Alice.

 

“It’s about creating a space where people from all walks of life can enjoy music,” says Tilla.

 

Their vision, to create a weekly Thursday night marketplace outside Cam’s KaféGonzo, is simple and thoughtful in conception.

 

The theme of “in between” is recurrent as they play to a descending sun and welcome in the night. Their invitation: to create a free and open space for the people of Alice.

 

“There are a lot of issues in this town,” says Darcy “ but this isn’t about dividing lines, it’s about bringing people together.”

 

One such barrier, Tilla says, is the tendency for music and other artistic ventures to revolve around the consumption of alcohol. Thursday’s Late Night Shopping is an alcohol free event and the audiences are welcome to bring along and share picnic baskets.

 

That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago, when Tilla and Darcy host a political themed music night. Cam, owner of KaféGonzo, is busy making his new remediation: dark and white-hot chocolate and chai as people gather outside, captivated Tilla’s hypnotic voice and Darcy, D-Day’s charisma.

 

Crowds exiting the cinema start to gather. The song: Neil Young’s Alabama.

 

Tilla, originally from Brisbane, introduces Neil Young’s song about the contradictions and social divisions of Alabama, where one’s Cadillac is trapped in the ditch.

 

“Alabama, you’ve got the weight on your shoulders

that’s breaking your back …”

 

Tilla speaks of the controversy of Young’s portrayal of Alabama and the inherent question all too poignant to an Alice Springs audience. Does Young, a stranger to Alabama have the right to speak so intimately of the town?

 

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” says Darcy, the Alice Springs born and bred musician, quoting Albert Einstein.

 

“I am not an idealist,” Darcy adds, “long term residents (in Alice) know these issues are complex and deeply embedded.

 

“But music has ability to transform and heal, it has a way of creating shared space … its allows people to reach their own conclusions.”

 

It really is a case of the old and the new that makes their dynamic so intriguing. Whilst Tilla’s style is enigmatic, Darcy is all about being present in the moment. He has got grunt, one of his styles: hip-hop.

 

As the night progresses the music takes a soulful and interactive twist, as Sienna, playfully joins the duo to offer her own skills, dance.

 

Kids on skateboards stop to take in the spectacle and for a moment, Tilla and Darcy’s vision is achieved and their music draws in passers-by.

 

Already having trialled the event for the past month, Tilla and Darcy are committed to building the event up and are welcoming all artists to contribute. The potential for KafeGonzo’s Late Night Shopping is limitless.

 

One of the most beautiful aspects of Tilla and Darcy’s vision is their commitment. In a transient town such as Alice, even the best intentioned visions and ideas can be but whispers in the wind, but Darcy and Tilla have the staying power.

Every Thursday, they are there, making music and “sharing the love.”

 

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