(Blogpost #2, Point Arena-California, 05.13.16)
Chaz Prymek and Nick Jaina performed musical wizardry at Oz Farm, Saturday night, April 30th. Oz Farm is about 140 miles north of San Francisco and about fifty miles south of Fort Bragg, one turn off of Highway 1 onto Mountain View Road, about 10 minutes north of Point Arena.
Jaina began his set just after dark. Prymek followed after a short switch of instruments. More than one coincidence and less than six degrees of separation brought me to the event. The performers used the original form of social media to alert folks-simple word of mouth. Dependable communication given erratic cell phone service and internet challenges. Cost of tickets, a donation into Prymek’s hat which he removed to pass around. Jaina had copies of his books and CD’s for sale. The two musicians had not played together before.
Oz Farm with its history of changing owners has maintained its commune aesthetic and community dynamic. As I drove up I smiled thinking this must have been one of the early off-the-grid destinations, the kind that is mentioned in a Denis Johnson story. The nocturnal sounds breathing through 300 acres of trees and pasture provided an ambient melody under a densely speckled sky. Halos from overlapping constellations seemed to crown the 21 people sitting on tree stumps in a half circle. A compact fire crackled between performers and audience, dogs down leaning against their caretakers.
Nick Jaina calls Portland home but home now is on the road where he travels from small space to small space delivering a hybrid performance of story-telling and music. His recent book, “Get it While You Can” was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award. As the Los Angeles Review of Books says, “a love song to music and to those who make it and live it. It is a warm, hopeful book about finding freedom and claiming it every day of your life, despite all the traps along the way.” Jaina extends those stories to melody and lyrics. He reads a passage against an original soundtrack, puts the book down and continues live. His performance lasts about an hour. Visit nick jaina’s website.
Chaz Prymek is from Colorado. Currently, he is a tentative resident of Point Arena. Pass by the old Sea Shell motel under construction and you will see Prymek wearing a hard hat and work boots. Prymek’s hands work hard carrying boards and cutting them, painting and prepping. After the workday his hands transform into gentle extensions from his heart and soul handling every part of his guitar to create magical musical compositions that he calls “visual lyrics.” Visit chaz prymek’s website.
“I’m only going to play two songs tonight, but they are long.” Prymek takes you on his visual landscape tour flawlessly and wordlessly. Sounds of bon fire, wind in the trees and soft surrounding movements integrate into his compositions. He’ll crack a joke or two before he plays, tell a short story. It his music that hypnotizes.
Oz Farm changed owners last year. Margaret Stewart who manages the operation is passionate about what the farm offers and what it can become. A handful of farmers live on the property where they manage crops for a CSA and tend the fields. The farm offers space for DIY events including but not limited to retreats and weddings. Stewart is especially proud of the apple trees which she pointed out. “We have so many varieties. You can see how they grow wide and spread out, not tall.” She said pointing with her open hands. “That’s the French style, espalier.” Learn more about Oz Farm and their CSA or visit the Oz Farm facebook page.
Oz Farm is what I call off-the-beaten-track that is off-the-beaten-track. A twenty-minute drive north on Highway 1 from Anchor Bay beyond the small city of Point Arena (which has a theatre that simulcasts London Theatre and NYC Opera), past Stornetta Lands (voted by NYT as #3 “must-see” places in the world-#1 in USA) and just before Manchester. Turn right onto Mountain View Road. Oz Farm is 1.68 miles on your right, down a gravel road.
When I asked Stewart how she gets the word out about what Oz offers, she said “We rely on word of mouth and social media. There is also a site we are part of called hipcamp.” I chuckled as I looked around at the setting that reminded me of a Country Joe and the Fish album cover thinking how preserved Oz is but aware of how to embrace the future.
Come to our Oz up here! Where Emerald City is the Emerald Triangle and where Mother Nature is our Wizard.