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'Frontoitik kalera': Basque-American band Amuma Says No hits the streets with its debut album


Cover of Amuma Says No's debut CD, 'Frontoitik kalera'
Cover of Amuma Says No's debut CD, 'Frontoitik kalera'


Amuma Says No has recently published its debut CD, 'Frontoitik kalera', where the band from Boise, Idaho, presents its 'Basque music with a kick'. The group is composed of Boise's Basque Block classics Dan Ansotegui (trikitixa), Sean Aucutt (tambourine), and Jill Aldape (vocals), as well as Spence Basterrechea Martin (drumms), Dave Manion (guitar) and Erik Snodgrass (bass). "We're trying to fuse a Basque rock sound with our own American rock/pop/country ideas, all the while mixing in traditional Basque folk music to create our own thing", Basterrechea explains to The group has been playing at the Basque festivals in the US all summer long and they were invited to perform at the San Antonio International Accordion Festival, Texas last October. Next stop, the Basque Country? 'If the opportunity presented itself, we would love to!! '

Boise, Idaho, USA. 'Frontoitik kalera', meaning from the fronton to the streets, is the title of the debut album of Amuma Says No. Fittingly, the band rehearses at the Boise Basque Fronton building and, yes, this summer they have been busy bringing their music to the Basque picnics and festivals all around the West. Their special brand of Basque traditional and rock songs mixed with American contemporary music has made them a favourite among the Basque Diaspora in the United States. With their debut album they hope they will get to deliver this 'Basque music with a kick' to broader audiences. has interviewed Spencer Basterrechea Martin, drummer of the group.

-When did you form the group?  Why?  Were you all friends before?  Did you meet at the Boise Basque scene?

Amuma Says No was formed in late 2006.  Dan Ansotegui (trikitixa) and Sean Aucutt (pandero) have been members of the Boise Basque community for decades.  Both of them danced many years with the Boise Oinkari Basque dancers, plus performed together in many Basque folk and dance bands throughout the western United States.  In 2001 they began teaching for Txantxan Gorriak, a trikitixa and pandero group designed to teach children how to play Basque folk music.  Both of them had grown up and were great friends with Jill Aldape (vocals), who was the dance instructor for the Oinkari dancers at the time.  Dan, Sean, and Jill had all at some point lived in the Basque Country and have a very solid connection with Euskal Herria.  In my opinion, they also represent the heartbeat of the Boise Basques as well.

Amuma Says No - Spencer BasterrecheaI played drums professionally for many years for Carnival and Crystal cruise lines and had just moved to Boise in 2006.  Being Basque myself but having never lived in area with many Basques, I was amazed at how strong the Basque community was in Boise. [On the left Spencer Basterrechea performing at the band's concert in Bellingham, Washington, for the Seattle Euskal Etxea and Vancouver (Canada) Zazpiak Bat Club's Basque Picnic (pictures Amusa Says No)]

I wanted to learn more about playing Basque music, so I asked around town if there were any bands that needed a drummer, and I was sent to Dan, Sean, and Jill.  We got together and played a few times, and were having so much fun that we decided to put together some music for the annual Boise Basque dance held every December.  We had a great response from the crowd and decided we should continue playing.  We needed to solidify the rhythm section and were lucky enough to add Dave Manion (guitar) and Erik Snodgrass (bass) to the band.

-Where did you start performing? 

After our first performance we started working hard to add more songs, putting together our own free concerts either at the Basque Center or closing down the Basque block and performing on the street.  We were hired to play at Boise's San Inazio Festival in July 2007 and from there we kept getting calls to play.  Over the past year we have performed  at over ten different Basque festivals throughout the western U.S., including Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.  We will be playing New Year's Eve for the San Francisco Basque club in California as well.  It has been a very rewarding experience to be able to meet Basques from all over the country and become part of their festivals and communities.  We also have regular shows in Boise, including a once a month performance at the "Leku Ona" restaurant downtown on the Basque Block.   

Amuma Says No - Jill AldapeThe best part about Amuma Says No is that it is a family.  We all get along together and enjoy being around each other.  What is also amazing is that even though I had never met Dan, Sean, or Jill before, we found out that our grandparents knew each other very well. Amuma Says No's singer Jill Aldape performing at the band's concert in Bellingwham, Washington, for the Seattle Euskal Etxea and Vancouver (Canada) Zazpiak Bat Club's Basque Picnic. [On the right, Amuma Says No's singer Jill Aldape performing at the Seattle Euskal Etxea and Vancouver (Canada) Zazpiak Bat Club's Basque Picnic]

 My Amuma used to work at Dan's Amuma's boarding house and restaurant in Sun Valley back in the 1930's.  We also found out that Jill's Amuma was close friends with my Amuma.  Having never lived in Boise and not knowing anyone when I moved here, to be able to join this family and Basque community was one of the greatest things to happen to me and my wife.  

-How would you define your style? 

I think the goal of Amuma Says No has always been to keep alive traditional Basque music in the United States while simultaneously pushing it forward into the 21st century.  Some people have commented that we have a very Euskadi-band sound, which is a nice compliment.  That's not what we are really striving for, however.  Like Dan said in an earlier interview:  "We don't want to copy the sound so that each song sounds like Joseba Tapia, or Itoitz or whomever.  We want it to sound like us doing our own version of their song."  We're trying to fuse a Basque rock sound with our own American rock/pop/country ideas, all the while mixing in traditional Basque folk music to create our own thing.

-About your CD:  what will the listeners find there?  What has been the inspiration for this album?  Where can our readers buy it?

The CD was funded by a national grant awarded to us by the Fund for Folk Culture.  We were nominated by our good friend Maria Carmen Gambliel of Boise, so we decided to put together some demo tracks and were fortunate enough to get selected to receive the grant.  The album contains eight songs and I think gives a really good representation of our live sound.  It has a few of our favorite Euskadi-rock covers, plus some original versions of Bolant Dantza, Zazpi Jautzi, and a Jota/Porrusalda.  

Amuma Says No - Dan AnsoteguiThe name of the CD, "Frontoitik Kalera," is very special to us.  The Boise Fronton sits right in the middle of the Basque Block and is one of the older buildings downtown, constructed in 1912.
[On the left picture Amuma Says No's trikitilari Dan Ansotegui at the band's concert in Bellingham, Washington]

For many years it was also a boarding house where the Basque Sheepherders would come into the city and live during the winter.  Today, the upstairs is a business building and the downstairs is the fronton.  In the basement next to the court is an old abandoned kitchen and dining room that in recent years was used for storage.  In fact, Sean's Amuma used to work in that very same kitchen in the 1940's. We cleaned up the room and now use it as our rehearsal space. 

The front cover of the CD shows a picture of us rehearsing in the dining room, while the back cover shows the court.  This might sound a little weird, but I think there is something very spiritual for us to practice in the fronton.  It is the center of the Boise Basque community and you can literally feel the history that has gone on in and around the building.  I think it keeps us close to our roots and reminds us of the history we share as 3rd generation American Basques.  

We are also working on a companion CD called "Lagunak" which should be finished around Christmas.  This album features us collaborating with other Basque musicians from around the country , including Jean Flesher and Bernardo Yanci.  If your readers are interested in buying our CD, they can contact us at  We are also on myspace at and on Facebook.  The CD should also be available soon in the Boise Basque Museum and Cultural Center store.  You can order from them online here:

-Have you received offers to play in Euskal Herria?

We haven't yet, but if the opportunity presented itself, we would love to come over!!

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