Ray Mansisidor

 
Ray Mansisidor.
 
You can hear the joy in every note Ray plays. He learned to play in the sheep camps of Southern Idaho and his button accordion must have magical powers, for Ray seems eternally young and vigorous. Farmer, pilot, dancer, father of four...Ray inspires us all. Three of his children -Mike on bass, Anne-Marie on clarinet and P.J. on drums acompany  him on these recordings made in 1995.
 
"Born in 1924, Ray lived and went to school in Boise until, in 1938, his family moved to Homedale where they lived in a wood sided tent for a year while his father built their house on the sheep ranch.  It was in the sheep camps where he learned to play the harmonica and button accordion, mostly by ear and practice.  With few radios at the time Ray was perpetually asked to play music for get-togethers and events.  So, as it was then and still is today, you won’t find Ray too far from his accordion. Ray and his accordion perpetually promotes Basque culture.  From the sheep camps, to the army and even up logging and smoke jumping in McCall that Basco and his accordion were telling the story of the Basque. [...]
 
He was always driving from sheep camp to sheep camp gathering up seasoned Basque Herders or the newbies to bring them to the dances and events. As for dedication, [...] riding an old army Harley Davison motorcycle with Tony Galdos on the back from Homedale to Boise just to learn the Jota from Jay Hormaechea out on 7th street in the late 50’s might qualify.  Keep in mind that roads in Homedale at that time were little more than glorified goat trails.
 
In 1960 he joined up with this little known group calling themselves the Oinkari Dancers.  Ray played alongside Jimmy Jausoro if he wasn’t dancing and credits Jimmy for teaching him more about playing Basque music on the accordion.  For 7 years Ray would drive from Homedale, often straight off the tractor to his car, to dance practice, performances and events and still travels to Boise whenever the opportunity arises although he’s more careful about jumping off his tractor these days.  Numerous stories exist of him falling asleep in his spaghetti (his favorite 3 am meal after dances) only to drive back to the farm to irrigate his crops and tend to his cattle at 5:30 am.  
 
Today, Ray can still be found every First Thursday playing with other musicians at the Basque Museum.  You’d be hard pressed to go too long without talking to or meeting someone that doesn’t have a Ray Mansisidor story.  Most will revolve around his accordion and the numerous places he’s been. [...] You need only hint at the desire for music and out will come his accordion."1
 
Sources:
 
 
1Letter about Ray Mansisidor for the Euzkaldunak board members at Legacy Awards, 2015. Provided kindly by P.J. Mansisidor.
 
Basque Music of Boise I, Tradizioa bizirik...The tradition lives!, CD, Basque Museum and Cultural Center, 1995.
 
Basque Music of Boise II, CD, Basque Museum and Cultural Center, 2010.
 
1962 - Postcard - Ansotegui, Mansisidor, and Jausoro in the Ann Morrison park, Boise.
 
1964 - Ray M. & Jim J. with accordions in the Ann Morrison park, Boise.
 
1962 - Al, John B. Ray & Simon in front of small airplane.
 
Audio Recording: 
Waltz by Ray Mansisidor and family (Mike on bass, Anne-Marie on clarinet and P.J. on drums), 2.
Egia da by A. Murelaga and Ray Mansisidor, 3.
Te Piez by Ray, Anne Marie & PJ Mansisidor 3.