It all started with a song. In 2002, Ann Arbor singer songwriter, Chris Buhalis, long known for his socially conscious songs and performances, wrote “Talkin’ Sounds Just Like Joe McCarthy Blues,” responding to some post 9/11 posturing in politics and the media. The song attracted similar creations by like-minded songwriters and by the fall of that year there was a compilation album, Tell It, Think It, Speak It, Breathe It (the title taken from Bob Dylan’s classic 1962 song, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”) and a 2002 December CD release concert at the Ark Coffeehouse. That was the first annual Ann Arbor Peace Show. Every December since then, always appropriately close to the holiday which at its heart celebrates peace on earth, about two dozen of southeast Michigan’s finest musicians have taken the stage at the Ark to sing songs of peace and protest against war.
The tenth annual Peace Show will be on Sunday, December 18, and will start at 7pm, to accommodate the long lineup. This year’s list of musicians includes many who were on that original recording, as well as ones who have performed in a number of the subsequent shows; Dave Boutette, Mr. B, Annie and Rod Capps, Corndaddy, Delta 88, Fubar, Sophia Hanifi and Dave Keeney, Brian Lillie, Misty Lyn, Kevin Meisel, Jim Roll, Royal Garden Trio, Jo Serrapere, Dick Siegel, San and Emily Slomovits [Current’s own Sandor Slomovits that is. -ed.], Jay Stielstra, and LaRon Williams. Buhalis will also sing and will, as in every previous year, also MC the show. That alone is worth the price of admission. Buhalis, besides being a fine musician, is a gifted storyteller/comedian who delivers hilarious, satiric one liners and set pieces as well as lightning-quick off-the-cuff introductions and responses to other performers and audience members, all with deadpan expression and perfect timing.
This year’s Peace Show will be the last one, not because “peace on earth, goodwill to all men” is now “mission accomplished.” Nor is this the final concert because, as Buhalis jokingly claims, “I need more time to start a pitchforks and torches company.” There are still plenty of swords, or rather, various weapons of limited and mass destruction, that need to be beaten into plowshares. It may simply be that all good things must come to an end. This final concert will conclude the series as it began, with a song, and all proceeds will benefit the Ark, Ann Arbor’s home of song.
The 10th Annual Concert for Peace will take place at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Sunday, November 18 at 7pm. Tickets are $15. For more info, www.theark.org.