Noeline Mocho

Noeline was born in Artesia, Los Angeles County, California in 1931. Her parents were both from Behe-Nafarroa, her father from Ainhize-Monjolose and her mother from Lasa. As with many Basque immigrants, they met each other in the new country. The father came in 1921. Noeline’s mother was working in a boarding house in L.A. as a maid.

When she was nine years old Noeline threw herself into music and started playing piano accordion. She had lessons for a year and a half. After her accordion teacher left for the service in World War II, she continued learning the accordion by ear. In these early years Noeline learned to write and read music. She used to play waltzes and polkas, paso dobles, and tangos in addition to Basque songs.

In the 1940s she started playing with Laurent Arretche, who was the main accordion player in Chino for the Basque dancers. Under Laurent, Noeline learned the Basque tunes to play for the dancers, such as Bolan Dantzan or Fandango, Arin Arin and Mutxikoak. Laurent used to play a button accordion and Noeline a piano accordion. For a number of years she was the main accordionist for the Chino Basque Dancers in the 1950s. By 1950 she was also playing at the Basque picnic with an Italian musician.

By around 1964 the Chino Basque dance group was renamed “Gauden Bat” under the auspices of Jean Louis Cihigoynetche. In these years and until the late 1970s Noeline did not accompany the dance group. The main musicians and accordion players for the group were Grace and Joe (last name unknown).

In 1977 she rejoined the dance group as the main accordionist and in 1979 they went to San Francisco for the first NABO (North American Basque Organizations) Convention where they performed for the audience. She kept playing for the dancers until 1984 and after that for Basque social events in the Basque Club for some years. Noeline currently resides in Chino, CA.

Source: Information provided kindly by Noeline Mocho and Jean Louis Cihigoyentche, August 2016.

Photos from the documentary, by the Chino Basque Club, provided with thanks to Steve Gamboa and Marianna Etcheverria.

Noeline Mocho (left) with accordion playing for the Gauden bat Basque dancers in 1979, at the first Nabo convention in San Francisco.

Audio Recording: 
Noeline Mocho playing "La Campagnola" and "in the Mood" 1994 NABO Accordion Festival. Recording provided by Jean Flesher.