Featured Band – The Samba Sisters

DGWGO Roving Reporter Martin Johnston went along along to a recent rehearsal of The Samba Sisters and has put together a wee report and some images.

The Samba Sisters are a local band that like to make some noise!

Formed in the late 1990’s the band has undergone location, name and member changes but continues to spread the sound and joy of Samba throughout Dumfries and Galloway and beyond.

Inspired by a Glasgow female drumming band that played in Stranraer, the very first band meeting took place in the late 1990’s in Wigtown – around 10 women then set about the process of buying instruments, finding a practice venue and funding a tutor. The Belties (as the band was called at that time) went from strength to strength in terms of playing ability and numbers but a geographical split began to emerge as half the band lived in Wigtown and the other in Dumfries.


At this point, in 2002, The Belties split the funding, instruments and players into two bands – one based in Wigtown, the other in Dumfries and from the latter The Samba Sisters was born.

Over the past 10 years, The Samba Sisters have performed across Dumfries and Galloway – from Portpatrick to Kirkconnel to Canonbie to name but a few – the band have brought their upbeat Samba sound to many Galas, gigs and local events (such as the Moffat Sheep Show!) – and their performances often involve members of the audience who just can’t resist joining in …

The band plays a variety of traditional Samba pieces and also a number of tunes arranged by samba musicians from Glasgow and Edinburgh. The music is played on a range of instruments including surdos (“the big drums”), repeniques, snares and timbas (“the side drums) and agogo bells, tamborins and shakers (“the percussion”) and every member of the band tries their hand at everything
In recent years the band have also played regularly in Glasgow and taken part in the charity “Strictly” events in Dumfries on behalf of Dumfries & Stewartry Women’s Aid – here the band’s talents spread beyond playing drums and percussion as dancing and singing were also required!

One of the hardest but proudest performances for The Samba Sisters was to play at the funeral of founding member Jenny Greenhill, who was still playing with the band at the age of 72. Jenny was a real character and was one of the first women who protested at Greenham Common.

The current Samba Sister line-up includes 14 women from all walks of life with ages ranging from 18 to late 60s! They all have the following in common – a love of music, rhythm and fun!

You can keep up to date with The Samba Sisters via their website and Facebook Page

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