Whiskey Daredevils, Berri Txarrak and Bilbao

I just saw this on Google Alerts and thought it was great.  Whiskey Daredevils, a band out of Cleveland, I think, just toured Europe and their last show was opening for Berri Txarrak in Bilbao.  They posted about their last show in Bilbao, which was a while ago in May, on the Cleveland Scene website and their experiences with the crowd and opening for what is a huge band in the Basque Country.  This is a great read!  Sounds like they had a blast, but at the same time the expectations were so big that the guy who did the post, Greg Miller (who I think is the lead singer), describes how he had butterflies for the first time in years and how pumped everyone was.  Like I said, well worth the read.  Not much specifically about the Basque Country, but it is does describe the experiences of a smaller US band touring in Europe and Euskal Herria, which is pretty neat.  And their music is pretty cool too.

Being Basque

Last month, my family and I were up in Idaho to visit grandparents.  While visiting amuma and aitxitxa (now affectionately known as “txitxi”), a couple of dad’s buddies got together at the Txoko Ona, their Basque center in Homedale, to eat and play cards.  They’d planned it a bit, but it wasn’t an overly involved production, just 4 or 5 guys, one making lamb stew and bbq’ing lamb ribs, another making bread, getting together and living life just like they might have in the old country.  They let me tag along, and while they were playing Mus, chatting away in Euskara, I couldn’t help thinking to myself that this is what being Basque really is about.  These guys don’t have to do anything to show their Basqueness, they just are Basque.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the big events, especially the ones that pull people from all over as I then get a chance to see old acquaintances and the like, people I wouldn’t get to see otherwise.  And it’s great to see the dancing, the sports, and the rest as such a profound expression of culture.  Later that month Homedale had it’s own Basque picnic, which drew in a respectable crowd, and I got to have my chorizo and kalimotxo, and see some old friends.

But, there is also something very special just seeing these guys do their thing.  Not trying to be Basque, but just being Basque by being themselves.  As the sheepherder generations leave us, we will be missing something crucial in the fabric of the Basque community.  One can only hope that the outward expressions of Basque culture that the collective “we” work so hard in keeping alive can draw new blood from the Basque Country to keep the foundation solid.

Calling all Ocamicas…

Miguel Ocamica, the son of Ramon, a good friend of my dad’s who was one of the chorizo crew I posted about a while back, is trying to gather the Ocamicas of the world together.  The goal is to establish a family tree of some sort between all the Ocamicas of the world.  To facilitate this, they have created a group on Facebook, Apellido Ocamica.  If you are a Ocamica or know of one, please pass on this news so that the history of the Ocamica family name can be known.

Euskal Kazeta — Basque News

To Basques in the US, Nancy Zubiri is well known.  Author of A Travel Guide to Basque America, there is probably no one who knows better both the current landscape of Basque America or how that landscape came to be.  Thus, it is very fitting that Nancy has just launched a new project, an online news magazine of all things Basque, Euskal Kazeta.  Featuring articles and stories about the Basques in the Caribbean, pilotaris in Bakersfield, and Aita Tillous, Euskal Kazeta exploits Nancy’s knowledge and network to bring fascinating stories, both past and present, from all corners of the Basque experience.  The site is well designed and allows visitors to leave their thoughts on what they read.  Euskal Kazeta is a great addition to cyberEuskadi, the Basque presence on the web.

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