Kern County Klika

1975 – The original Klika members of the Kern County Klika.

The Kern County Klika is based in Bakersfield and was created in 1975 by immigrants from the northern part of the Basque Country, Iparralde, as part of the Kern County Basque Club.  It was common in the American Klikas for the initial members to have had previous experience playing in the French army and in their village band in the Basque Country.  In Kern County, Henri Duhart and Henry Daramy were founding members of the Klika. Along with many others, they had been in the army and brought that tradition with them as immigrants. The first year of the Kern County Klika had the participation of between 12-20 musicians.

Currently, Bakersfield’s Klika has 30 to 35 members, including several young people, thereby guaranteeing the future of the group. The band plays every year at the Bakersfield Basque Picnic and the Fresno Basque Picnic. Additionally, they play 10 to 12 times a year, at the Christmas Mass, at Easter, and at personal celebrations. The Klika of Bakersfield includes bugles, drums, cymbals and Makilariak. The current Makilaria is Dominique Camou, but there have been other band directors such as Fernando Caminondo, as well as the very first one, Jean Dalia, who had previous experience being a Makilari for the Southern California Klika.

The original Klika members and their roles were:

Henri Duhart and Bernard Arduain (founders of the Bakersfield Klika) Jean Dalia (Makilaria), Jean Pierre Daramy (tambour-drums), Henri Daramy (drum). Most of the other musicians played the bugle (clariona) J.B. Veschembes, Jose Maritorena, Jean Arrayet, Jean Louis Arduain (bass), Rene Arduain, Arnaud Arduain, Marcel Etcheverry, Dominic Othart, Marcel Membrede, René St. Esteban, St. Martin Iribarren, Bernard Bidart, Sauveur Bidart, Amedee Irey, and Charles Moutrousteguy who originally played an important part buying eight bugles for the group.

Besides traditional marches, the Kern County Klika included an “Ave Maria” march, which incorporated a religious element combined with the Klika tradition.

In 2016, a combination of California Klikas was invited to participate in the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington D.C. The festival that year featured the Basque culture, and the Kern County Klika represented an important part of Basque-American culture.

Source: Information kindly provided by the actual Kern County Klika member musician, artist and historian, Pierre Igoa.