Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Earthy Folk with Staying Power from Jud Branum
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chris Buhalis looks at his music career as a long-term proposition. And that's good, because the rural, earthy tones on his debut CD, "Kenai Dreams," reflect his careful study of great American country, folk and blues artists and make a stride of their own toward carrying those traditions forward. "I always say the best thing I've got going for me in music is that I'm never going to retire," says the always-modest Buhalis, who laughs when he adds that his career goal at this point is "to pay some of this money back, someday." But just because he's self-effacing doesn't mean he's shy. Buhalis said he's sung at parties throughout his life, and he started playing for people about the time he started writing songs in late 1994. Since then he's made inroads into both the craft and business of music, becoming a leading light in the burgeoning folk scene in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area. ! Buhalis is a solid guitar picker and a soulful singer, and his sound does the bulk of the work on "Kenai Dreams." But he also has friends who can flat-out play. So when Jeff Plankenhorn grabs his dobro or David Mosher steps out for a mandolin solo, the sound is dead-on: clean, crisp and dynamic enough to be emotionally grabbing without ever taking over from the focus on the songs and the lyrics. And the record stands out for another guest appearance: One of the final recordings of the great Texas songwriter-poet Townes Van Zandt, who mentored Buhalis in his final years before dying on New Year's Day 1997. A shaky Van Zandt vocal echoes a few lines in the title on Buhalis' disk; his picture appears inside the CD booklet. "If you're going to affiliate me with anybody, that's an honor," Buhalis says. "That's like having Elvis come and sing on your record." Through appearances at The Ark, Ann A! rbor's nationally known listening room, Buhalis has also ! shared the stage with luminaries including Dave Van Ronk and David Bromberg. And one of his first-ever radio appearances was on the nationally syndicated Acoustic Cafe show, so Buhalis proves singers don't have to be aggressive self-promoters to get some exposure. Like Van Zandt, Buhalis' songs probe truths with well-crafted lyrics, not shying away from the darker side of things. "I always feel like I'm tricking myself into catching one," Buhalis says of his efforts to put songs on paper. As an example, Buhalis points out that one of his strongest songs, "Employee 1209," began as the ending of another tune-in-progress that never arrived. Though a friend joked that "he went to one of my shows and he had to break up the mope pit in front," Buhalis' record has an engaging mix of tunes in the folk/country realm, from the ardent union ballad "Employ! ee 1209" to the upbeat wisdom of "Plant Me I Will Grow.""