Basque Music Roundup

I asked readers for their suggestions of Basque bands and musicians to check out. Here are a few of the favorites they named. I hope you can find at least one you like!

*Disclaimer: I do not speak Basque or Spanish, therefore I cannot and do not endorse any of the messages within these bands’ lyrics.*

Sustraia – Rock, from Hélette

The internet tells me this band is rock, but they sound pretty ska to me. What is with Basque people loving their ska?

Betagarri – Ska, from Vitoria-Gasteiz

I will never be able to drill out the memory of a bunch of middle-aged Basque Americans going nuts on the dance floor over this band at Basque Rock Live. These guys are crowd pleasers.

Kortatu – Ska, from Irun

Ska music usually annoys me to no end (it’s something about the trumpets…), but I’ve heard this song so many times that I kind of love it. There are some great memories attached to it.

Eskorbuto – Punk, from Santurtzi (Greater Bilbao)

Love the punk sound on this one.

Soziedad Alkoholika – Crossover Thrash, from Vitoria-Gasteiz

From what I read on Wikipedia about their controversial lyrics, I’m not a huge fan of this band. But some of you might like their sound.

BONUS! Félicien’s Cum-Cum Mania

Okay, okay, so this guy isn’t Basque. He’s from the Béarn, right next door. But this song absolutely cracks me up.

One year when I went to visit the Basque Country, this song was THE song, all over the radio, everyone singing along. If you speak French, the lyrics are quite amusing. Enjoy!




Ski Lodge: If Summer and Winter Had a Baby, It Would Sound Like This

During Jaialdi 2010, I met a cool Basque American kid from Portland named John Barinaga at Leku Ona‘s bar. I don’t remember much from that night, but these are the things I remember:

  • I thought he was cute.
  • He didn’t know many young people.
  • He was getting drunk at the bar with his dad.
  • His dad kept telling him to dump his girlfriend because I was a lot nicer.
  • I introduced him to my friends because he didn’t know many young people.
  • And because I thought he was cute.

Fast forward three years later, John lives in Brooklyn and plays guitar in an up-and-coming band called Ski Lodge.


I don’t want to sound like a groupie here, but this band is actually really good. Ski Lodge is like The Smiths meets dancy surf rock. At first I wasn’t too sure how that combination sat with me, but it quickly grew on me.

When I listen to Ski Lodge, I imagine Morrissey sitting on a beach in an ironically worn Hawaiian shirt, sipping on a Mai Tai trying to have a good time, but ever compelled to sing about his sorrows like a pre-teen girl’s diary entry. Because he just can’t help it.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Give them a listen.

You can keep up with Ski Lodge through their websiteFacebook, and Twitter, or download their debut album Big Heart on iTunes now.

Have You Let Berri Txarrak Blow Your Mind Yet?



Berri Txarrak is a Basque rock band from the Basque province of Nafarroa, and they’re kind of a big deal. They’ve won numerous awards in Europe for their music, and SF Station calls them one of “the two best rock bands from the Basque Country.” Although they formed in 1994, I only heard of Berri Txarrak in 2005 when they came to San Francisco to play a show for a handful of people at the Irish Cultural Center.

And they BLEW. MY. MIND. Before being introduced to Berri Txarrak, I thought all Basque music was boring old folk songs full of accordion music that my aita loved to play on family road trips. But I was wrong! I had found a band with as much energy and raw emotion as my favorite American bands, all while singing (and shouting) in Basque.

Even though I can’t understand any of their lyrics aside from a few curse words, music lovers don’t need to speak Basque to feel the power behind Berri Txarrak’s words. Music is a universal communicator, and I only really understood that by listening to Berri Txarrak for the first time.

To add to my adolescent delight, I discovered their track “Denak Ez Du Balio” features vocals from Tim McIlrath of Rise Against! Two of my favorite bands all in one!  Have a listen in the YouTube clip below.

If you want to let a little Berri Txarrak into your life, their Myspace has 50 free tracks for you to listen to, or go to their website to read more.

Now that I’ve shared my all-time favorite Basque band with you, I’d love to read about yours in the comments. Let me know:

Who is your favorite Basque music group or solo artist?

Say Yes to Amuma Says No


Photo Credit:

Boise’s Basque American band, Amuma Says No, is awesome.  Straight up awesome.

A staple feature of Boise’s annual San Inazio festival, they will be performing at Elko Convention‘s Saturday night dance this weekend.  As their tongue in cheek name (translation: Grandma Says No) would suggest, Amuma Says No is fun. Fun to watch, fun to dance to, and fun to sing along to.

I for one am super excited to see them this weekend, as their sets run long but never dull.  While some bands play in the background as a soundtrack to your festival experience, Amuma Says No commands your attention.  They take that stage for one reason: to make you dance like you’ve never danced before.

They play more jotas than any other band I’ve encountered at Basque festivals, keeping the young ones happy, but pepper in plenty of couples’ dances for the romantics as well.  Throw in a few covers of popular American artists like the Violent Femmes and Johnny Cash, and Amuma Says No has brought the party.

Without fail, lead vocalist Jill Aldape’s electric energy gets the crowd going.  She steps down from the stage several times during their festival set to teach the crowd a number of group dances, providing a much needed breather for the more vigorous dancers and a welcome tutorial for those newer to Basque dancing.

Amuma Says No brings a refreshing sound to Basque American dances, working American musical influences into traditional Basque songs. Always spirited and engaging, they are the quintessential Basque American band.  Visit their website or check them out on Myspace.

Enjoy this video of Jill teaching a partner switching dance at San Inazio in 2009.  Bonus points if you can find me–or yourself!–among the dancers.

Hope to see you on the dance floor this weekend!