Visiting Artists

Visiting Artist Series
Sambadendê
Ernest Brown World Music Series

Sambadende.inddSambadendê was created in 2001 by Ty Hammes, who having lived in Salvador and having performed with Olodum and other blocos in Bahia wished to recreate that sound in the local music scene in Boulder. With the addition of Chico Meira, from Rio de Janeiro, Sambadendê expanded its repertoire to include samba do quintal, coco, jongo, MPB, afoxê, maracatu, forró, and other rhythms.

In 2001, Mr. Hammes convinced 15 people to create a “bloco”, or street percussion ensemble, to perform at a capoeira fundraiser in Boulder, CO. With six surdo players, caixas, repeniques, and congas on stage, the first show brought a new sound, Samba-Reggae, to the Boulder music scene. The enthusiastic response from the crowd led to another gig the following month and the group was given the name Sambadendê, meaning (more or less) Palm Oil Samba. The word “dendê” means palm oil in Portuguese, but the meaning was two-part. First, to say something “has dendê” means to say that it has spice, and this phrase is used in Capoeira music, which was the roots of the group. Secondly, the word is reminiscent of the smell of palm oil that would fill the air each evening in Salvador da Bahia, signifying the arrival of percussion ensembles (blocos) on the streets to perform.

The first few years saw over 30 people play as the group evolved from a bloco to a band, adding in guitar and other styles of music. Return trips to Brazil allowed Ty to spend time in Pernambuco, Maranhao, and other states in Brazil, and we began to mix in other rhythms such as coco, maracatu, jongo, and afoxê. Chico Meira, a native of Rio de Janeiro, joined the group in 2003, bringing nearly 30 years of Brazilian music to the band. In 2005 the band was reduced to 6 people and has remained fairly constant since. In 2008, Sambadende were hired to play a wedding in Brazil, and the band journeyed together from Rio to Pernambuco, traveling in a van and playing with groups at different stops along the way.

The other members of the band are JJ Rademaekers holding down the drum section on kit, Nafisa Ramos on the three surdo bass drums and singing backing vocals, Ian Brighton on sax, flute and auxiliary percussion, and Francisco Marques on bass, vocals, pandeiro and timbal.

Sambadende was founded on the inherent sense of community found in Brazilian music, and the personality of the band remains the same, which is to share the experience with the crowd and to blur to distinction between musicians on stage and those dancing in the crowd.

Sambadende is presented by the Williams College Department of Music with the generous support of the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Performing Arts Endowment.