Although they don’t have wings, beaks, or feathers, Marion County snowbirds Maurice and Twila Pritz annually migrate to a warmer climate during winter months where Maurice sings and plays in regular jam sessions.
“We go to Apache Junction in Arizona at Golden Vista Park,” Twila said. “Maurice loves the guitar. He sings and plays quite a bit of country western music in the jams there.”
Both 79 years of age, Twila said they started spending time there about 20 years ago because they had family who wintered there.
“We bought a lot there,” Twila said. “We have a park model trailer there. It’s got everything we need.”
Over the years they made many other good friends, some of whom Pritz still plays music with.
During the winter, he plays in about seven jams per week with their friends at Golden Vista Park.
“Most people come from the northern states and Canada,” Pritz said. “The regulars that come are like our second family.”
Even though Pritz has played guitar for just over 50 years, recorded a record in Nashville, Tennessee, and used to have a band called “Country Sound” that played in the Marion County area, he said he usually learns something new during jam sessions.
“There are some really good musicians,” he said. “I’m still in a sandbox compared to some of the guys, you know, I’m an old dog, but I’m always learning new tricks
“Playing guitar is the one of greatest things I ever did,” he said. “Learning new songs helps keep my sanity.”
Pritz plays a variety of electric guitars and especially enjoys country music because lyrics tell life stories he identifies with.
“I’m learning a song now that was written for George Burns, it’s called ‘I wish I was 18 again,” he said. “It’s beautiful song.”
Pritz also recently re-mastered a 12-track album of cover songs in February he recorded at a studio in Mesa, Arizona several years ago.
The Pritzs share a passion for country and gospel music.
“I’m a music lover too, so it works out” Twila said. “I love to listen to him play. I like meeting different people and we know a lot of good people there already.”
Their daughter and a neighbor help look after the farm while the Pritzs are in Arizona.
During the rest of the year, Pritz tends a small herd of cattle and grows a few crops at their home northwest of Lincolnville.
Twila does household chores, enjoys baking, and regularly checks on Maurice while he is out doing farm work.
“He’s got a skid loader now that makes it easier for him to clean out the barn and put up hay,” Twila said. “And I don’t feel older than I did 15 years ago, but you do slow down a little bit.”
The Pritzs also travel to a senior center in Herington where Pritz plays in monthly jam sessions. They also attend gospel and classic rock themed jam sessions twice a month in Cottonwood Falls.
“We do most things together,” Twila said. “I just had my hip replaced, so I am trying to walk without a limp. I have a cane but as long as Maurice is around, I like holding his hand. He keeps me steady.”