Manuel Ocamica


Manuel was born in Bedarona, Bizkaia on June 17, 1915.  A relative who had immigrated to the United States, Bernardina Ocamica, sent Manuel the money to buy his first accordion.  He seemed to have an innate love of music and always played by ear. 

Manuel would strap an accordion on his back and off he would go on his bicycle to all of the “romerias” or festivals in various small towns and villages in Bizkaia.  At one time, wanting to improve his skills, he did go to see an instructor.  After a short time playing, the instructor informed Manuel that he already knew as much as he did, so he couldn’t help him to learn more.  He just advised him to keep playing.

He married Concepcion Garechana, also of Bedarona, on July 30, 1942 at Urkiola.  Together they had five children.  Before the youngest was born, Manuel decided to come to the US to be able to better support his family.  He arrived in New York on December 16, 1954 and was later able to bring his wife and children to this country.  He also became a US citizen.

Manuel worked and lived in various communities in the West.  He worked for Mitchell Lecertua for a time in Shoshone, Idaho and up in Washington building a dam, a ranch in Burns, OR to mention a couple of his adventures .  Manuel shared his musical talent on the button accordion in Boise, Idaho, Burns (often at the Plaza Hotel and during festivals) and Ontario, Oregon (often at the Echanis Boarding House) and Elko, Nevada (at The Star or during Basque festivals). His genuine love of music can be heard through these recordings.

Information, photographs and music provided by Manuel’s daughters – Maria Isabel and Maria Concepcion – September, 2016

Domingo Ansotegui, Jim Jausoro, Manuel Ocamica, and Ramon "Txapo" Zorrozua - Burns, Oregon


Manuel Ocamica - parade with wooly chaps 


1974, Manuel Ocamica and Ramon "Txapo" Zorrozua 


Ramon "Txapo" Zorrozua and Manuel Ocamica

Audio Recording: 
Manuel Ocamica - Jota
Manuel Ocamica - Biribiketa
Manuel Ocamica - Doce Cascabeles