Chris Buhalis releases album about Michigan after an accident that almost left him unable to play

Mar 10, 2016

Chris Buhalis
Credit Charles Steen

Ann Arbor’s Chris Buhalis is releasing an album.  It’s called Big Car town.

A few years ago, when Chris was finishing up the album, he severely injured his left thumb and three other fingers in a table saw accident. He remodels houses for his day job.  As a guitarist and singer/songwriter, there was a point where he thought he would never be able to play guitar again.

After surgeries and occupational therapy, he is able to play again and has been able to release that album he almost finished more than two years ago.

A lot of songs on the album, Big Car Town, tell stories about Michigan’s industrial past and the feel of the Midwest. The title track opens with the lyrics, “I come from a big car town/ We shine ‘em up and drive ‘em all around.”

The song, “Daddy Worked the High Steel (His Daddy Worked the Line)” is a salute to the American worker. Buhalis’ father was an iron worker for 35 years and his grandfather was an auto worker in Detroit. Buhalis says Michigan and the Midwest is defined by work ethic and honesty.

The song called The Virgins was inspired by old growth trees. The descriptive lyrics take us back in time and introduces us to a character who worked for Michigan’s logging and mining industries.

The lyrics tell a descriptive story:

“. . . I left Calumet

All scarred by the Copper King

I kept having dreams of getting buried in the mines

I took a job felling trees

With the Johnston Company

And hopped a train on that Copper River Line

Tonight I’m running

With the Virgins on my mind

They built Chicago

And all that you can see

The company gains

And all that remains

Is two old Virgins

This river and me

It took four days

Just riding through the north woods rain

They said there’s green gold

For all eternity

In four short years

All them Johnston boys and me

We cut ‘em down

Leaving nothing for the breeze. . . ”

Buhalis says the song is a cautionary tale and worries about the environmental effects of logging, mining and fracking in Michigan.

“We have a long history of industry kind of running roughshod over the environment for the enrichment for a few people,” Buhalis says.

Buhalis will perform at his CD release show Friday at the Ark in Ann Arbor.