Isabelle (Ocafrain) Bushman

Isabelle was born in Burlingame in 1974, to parents Jean Leon Ocafrain from Banka and Mayte Dagorret from Ortzaize who immigrated to California. Both of them were very active in the Basque community of the Bay Area where Isabelle grew up. Isabelle served as a director and ultimately the first female and third Basque-American president of the Basque Cultural Center of San Francisco. She was also the youngest. She served on the Basque Club board for years and has also been a NABO delegate.

Isabelle started taking lesson on the button accordion at nine with Michelle Gallant, a French woman who taught accordion and who frequently played accordion at Basque events. Isabelle also knows how to play the txistu, piano and trumpet. She also improved her accordion skills under the teaching of Jean Flesher during the Udalekus (Basque summer camps) in Salt Lake City in the 1980s.

Isabelle participated with a band formed by a group of San Francisco musicians for the Jaialdi 1995 International Basque Cultural Festival held in Boise, Idaho.

Isabelle’s primary contribution to Basque Music was when she stepped forward to be the main accordion player for the San Francisco younger Basque Dancers, the Gazteak, from 1997 to around 2010. She also has been playing for many Basque picnics and events. Isabelle knows how to play Waltzes, Polkas, Fandangos, Arin Arin, and many other Basque dancing songs. Since 2010 Isabelle plays off and on for fun.

For Isabelle, to play Basque music means to be a part of the Basque culture and is her way to keep the culture alive.

Source: Interview with Isabelle by Eneko Tuduri on 8.31.2016