“Concert for Peace” Raises Funds for “Vets for Peace”

The anxiously awaited annual Concert for Peace, formerly known as the John Lennon Birthday Concert, will be held November 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ark and will feature 16 performances. 

This community-focused event brings together like-minded people from different backgrounds with the common goal of peace.

“It is really a wonderful community event because you can come and see 15 or 16 different acts,”  “And the peace community has a pretty nice cross-section of humanity there.”

Buhalis has been an instrumental person in the Concert for Peace since its inception.

Peace Concert History

Chris Buhalis, musician, emcee, and founder, said, “I’ve been involved with every one of the Vets for Peace Chapter 93 peace concerts since 2008. All of the money raised goes to Vets for Peace Chapter 93 Scholarship Fund, which is used to fund the study of non-violent forms of conflict resolution.”

Buahlis recalled further essential details.

“In 2008, Bob Krzewinski from VFP (Veterans For Peace) emailed me to ask if I would help organize a concert for John Lennon’s birthday and to raise money for the VFP Chapter 93 Scholarship Fund,” he stated. “We did the first show in 2008 at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti. In 2012 we moved over to The Ark.” 

John Lennon, originally one of the Beatles with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, also continued his career connected to peace, along with life with peace activist/artist and wife Yoko Ono. Such songs included: “Radio Peace,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “Imagine,” and “Happy Christmas (War is Over).” 

Veterans For Peace (VFP) “is a global organization of Military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using experiences and using our voices,” according to their website: Who We Are.

Buhalis recalled the history of the Concert for Peace, formerly known as the “John Lennon Concert for Peace.”

“The Vets got in touch with me, I think, in 2008,” said Buhalis. “It was first begun on John Lennon’s birthday, which is October 9. Other vet groups in the country were doing concerts on the day that he (Lennon) died. And those in Chapter 93 thought it would be better on the day he was born.”

However, they changed the name a couple of years ago and just called it Concert for Peace to allow the artist more freedom than playing only John Lennon songs. 

“When you start these things, you don’t necessarily plan on them going for 20 years…I mean, it is still inspired by John Lennon. You know, that hasn’t changed,” he said. “We don’t think John Lennon would be upset about that (the name change) either.”

Artistic Freedom

All the musicians who perform for the event play for free in order to help benefit the peace movement. While the theme of the show is peace, artists have complete freedom in choosing their songs.

“People just play whatever they want,” Buhalis said. “I mean, most people have been playing John Lennon songs until the last couple of years. People are just encouraged to do whatever song they believe, you know.” 

Artistic freedom is also vital to the peace process.

“No one has ever been told what songs to play,” Buhalis described. “The closest we ever came was when we were doing John Lennon songs just to make sure people weren’t all playing the same ones.

Buhalis also discussed his role as the emcee.

“I talk about all kinds of stuff until the sound guy is ready to go,” he disclosed.

But nobody really pushes their views on anyone. 

“I don’t proselytize the people. I say whatever is on my mind, and I speak as myself…I may be a peace activist, but I’m not speaking for Veterans For Peace (VFP) while I’m up there. I’m speaking for myself. This is a show that we put on, and we give to Vets for Peace…I speak my mind as someone in a free society should.”

Great Venue and Musicians

Buhalis also said he was proud to have the concert at The Ark.

“The Ark is one of the top three folk music clubs in the entire country,” said Buhalis. “So anytime you can do a show at the Ark, it is a compelling reason to do a show at The Ark. It really is nationally renowned.”

He added that this event is also a great way to see a wide variety of musicians.

“It’s a really nice show,” he said. “It is a really great way to see a cross-section of the Ann Arbor music community. Granted, we have a heavier sway toward folk and roots music just because of the venue.”

While the bands are from all over Michigan, they are mainly from this area.

“This year, we have all Michigan acts, and most of the bands are from the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and Southeast Michigan,” he said. “We’ve had people over the years come down from northern Michigan, but it’s a lot to ask of people to come down just to play one song.”

He added that in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area, there are many people with peace at the forefront of their minds.

Family and Community-Oriented

Another nice thing about the event is that it is family-friendly.

“People can bring their kids,” Buhalis described. “People bring their kids at a lot of shows at The Ark. I mean, the Ark is a family-friendly venue for sure. You don’t have to be 21, and it’s not a noisy bar. It is an actual club.” 

And all the music performed is top-notch.

“This is a high-quality musical concert that should be at The Ark,” said Buhalis. “The Ark has a reputation for such, and we do not wish to sully that reputation.”

In conclusion, Buhalis said there are many reasons to attend the event.

“I would like to stress what a community event it is,” said Buhalis. “We haven’t technically sold it out (over the years), but there are nice crowds. And this is one of those shows every year that just kind of fill us up. There is just such a strong sense of community in the room. And when we get around a bunch of like minded people, there is a certain optimism to campaign for peace in our current world… I just hope that people come out because at this point and time, it is just a wonderful night of music on top of everything else that it is for.  It is a really good show.” 

Each act will play one song. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. The performers scheduled are:

Chris Buhalis, Laith Al-Saadi, Judy Banker, Dave Boutette & Kristi Davis, Kevin Brown & Jud Braam, Annie & Rod Capps, Rochelle Clark, Dave Keeney & Sophia Hanifi, Shari Kane & Dave Steele, Billy King, Dick Siegel, Michael Smith, Rollie Tussing, and Jo Serrapere