Sambadende has been sharing the energy of Brazilian music with its loyal fans since 2001. Each show in their hometown of Boulder, CO draws a packed house and the powerful combination of drums and vocals never ceases to bring new fans off the street. Focusing on the street ensemble rhythms from the northeast of Brazil, Sambadende adds to its loyal following each time they perform.

The group was created with the intention of sharing not only the soulful music of Brazil, but also the inherent community feeling that is so evident in all Brazilian music. Sambadende 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, Sambadende expanded its repertoire to include samba do quintal, coco, jongo, MPB, afoxe, maracatu, forro, and other rhythms.

The current members of Sambadende are Chico Meira (Vocals, guitar, cavaquinho), Ty Hammes (timbal, congas, repenique, pandeiro), Nafisa Ramos (surdos, vocals, tantan), JJ Rademaekers (drum kit, zabumba), Ian Brighton (sax, flute), and Francisco Marques (bass, vocals, pandeiro, timbal).

Sambadende Ty Hammes
Percussion (pandeiro, repenique, timbal, congas)
Chico Meira
Vocals, Guitar, Cavaquinho
Stephanie Ramos
Percussion (surdos, tantan), Vocals
Jonny Rademaekers
Drum kit, Zabumba
Ian Brighton
Sax, Flute, Keyboards
Francisco Marques
Bass, Vocals, Pandeiro, Timbal


In 2001, I convinced 15 people to create a “bloco”, or street percussion ensemble, to perform at our 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 Sambadende, meaning (more or less) Palm Oil Samba. The word “dende” means palm oil in Portuguese, but the meaning was two-part. First, to say something “has dende” 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 (where I had lived before moving to Boulder) 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 me 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 afoxe. Chico Meira, a native of Rio de Janeiro, joined the group in 2003, bringing nearly 30 years of Brazilian music to the band. Other important contributors to the band at that time, aside from the current members, included Lali Vieira, Jans Ingber, Jonathan Modell, Stacey Ludlow, Scott Messersmith, Nicole Rodriguez, and others. In 2005 the band was reduced to 6 people and has remained fairly constant since. In 2008, we 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.

Sambadende was founded on the inherent sense of community found in Brazilian music, and the personality of the band remains the same. To share the experience with the crowd and to blur to distinction between musicians on stage and those dancing in the crowd. If you get a chance to see us play, we hope that you feel this way about our music.

-Ty Hammes


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