If sound could capture the air of a season, then the percussion-driven dance music of SambaDa in the summertime would be the perfect engine for a night of playful debauchery.

Red, yellow and orange lights impart revealing shadows of jabbing appendages against the walls. Sweaty shirts and smiles suggest more than a deep drum beat.

The group blew the roof off the Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos July 28, and it is obvious now that SambaDa has matured into more than an opening band. Their energy is important, tight and professional.

Their music cannot be categorized into a single genre. Some songs were defined by the drums, creating a sound that should be played around a bonfire, naked in the moonlight, and then without notice the sound effortlessly juxtaposes the sensual by way of a tribal beat. SambaDa flows between funk, Latin, jazz, Flamenco, tribal and carnaval-style sounds that beg for a conga line led by Chiquita banana.

Together for more than 10 years, SambaDa has deservingly secured its unique voice among the club circuit. The group took form in 1997 in Santa Cruz, led by Brazilian vocalist/guitarist Papiba Godinho. Not long after, the band became a local favorite with its high-energy vibe and danceable beats.

About two years ago, with the addition of Brazilian dancer Dandha da Hora, a member of the Ile Aiye (House of Life) music group since she was 6, the band has brought African rhythms, salsa, funk, hip-hop and rock into its potent mix.

In addition to these two Brazilian members, SambaDa includes five Americans: saxophonist Anne Stafford of Sonoma County; bassist Kevin Dorn and percussionist Marcel Menard, both from the Los Angeles area; drummer Gary Kehoe from Minnesota; and percussionist Will Kahn, a native of Bolinas, Calif.

“What we really want to do is create a message of tolerance and awareness of all people,” Kahn said. “The world needs to appreciate diversity, and with all the media coverage with the war on terror, there has been a lot of ‘us’ and ‘them’ created. The killing is getting us nowhere. We stand for peace and tolerance.”

SambaDa has played larger venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco and headlined for San Diego’s annual Carnaval. But Kahn said it’s the community feel on the Central Coast that keeps the band coming back.

The band will continue playing smaller venues like Sweet Springs because it’s the connection with their fans and a live audience that the band really thrives on, Kahn said.

“We’re trying to get people to listen to us who might not listen to Brazilian music,” he said.

“Brazil is very ethnically diverse, and the music reflects the various cultures. We’re about breaking barriers and making music that makes people want to dance.”

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