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Arts & Life

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

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Charles Steen
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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.