New Album Review: Babaux & The Peacemakers
Updated: Sep 20
Artist: Babaux & The Peacemakers
Album: Lucky 13
Lucky 13 is an eleven song set from the soulful Colorado ensemble of musicians including Christian Basso handling the vocals and dobro, Eric Martinez on guitar and Alana and Niek Velvis on drums and bass respectively. The record clocks in just under 47 minutes bringing the listener on a blues and roots rock journey that occasionally has a tiny glimpse of old Nashville in it.
The production is a stripped down meat and potatoes approach with lots of grease left in to savor. It is reminiscent of a release from the mid 70s coming out of Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia. Simply put, the record just breathes.
Early Grave is a standout track. It comes in with a stone cold lonely acoustic guitar that sets up an impeccable vocal take. The vocals sit like a butter patty on warm bread, slowly melting with soul, taste and patience. The guitar solo section reminds me a bit of The Doors classic cut The End. Not so much in the playing itself, but the hypnotic drone that is created with the large majority of the solo happening on one chord.
My favorite track is Bye Bye To You. The vocal is hinging on tragic, in the same way that Tom Waits delivers his graveled poetry set to a musical backdrop. The chorus vocal moves seamlessly in and out of the falsetto. This cut is an example of how effective a simple hook can be when delivered with maturity and taste.
It’s difficult to label this as a blues album in a traditional sense, but the blues runs deep through the whole production. It is swampy and sweaty with its own fingerprint. It’s loose in all the best ways. The whole production just feels natural and comfortable. This album is proof that there are still folks making real music that needs to be made and heard. If you like soulful southern influenced music with one foot firmly in the blues you will love this band!
Check out the interview as well!
Tell us the brief history of your band or musical career.
Babaux & The Peacemakers, brings four of Colorado's most acclaimed musicians, songwriters, engineers and producers together for a dynamic excursion across the width and breadth of the Roots-Rock spectrum. Led by singer/songwriter and dobro player Cristian Basso (aka, Babaux), The Peacemakers are Eric Martinez on guitar, along with Alana and Niek Velvis on drums and bass respectively. Basso, whose history includes bass stints for an array of icons from Bo Diddley to Leo Nocentelli (The Meters) to Papa Mali, and has songwriting credits with no less than Eric Lindell (on his acclaimed Gulf Coast Highway album).
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
I was raised in the Shenandoah valley in Virginia USA. When I was a young boy, my mother was small town concert promoter and introduced me to Piedmont blues musician John Jackson. John is a local legend and a United States treasure. John would play music at gas stations, at the library and at our house. It didn’t matter where he was, he just wanted to play his music. John was my initial introduction to the blues/roots counter culture. The music was an extension of his unique life, and extension of his soul and a way to balance his inner self. He also was a grave digger, a hard worker, and I listened to his music as if it was an ongoing conversation he was having with his spiritual side. It is specifically this spiritual delivery that hit me the hardest. It was the most honest, moving, heartbreaking and at the same time, uplifting combination of music that I have ever experienced. The combination of the spiritual depth, the rhythms, as well as the lyrics soothed my soul as it appeared to sooth his. The Piedmont blues music introduced me to empathy and how important it is for humans to have empathy for each other. I welcomed this message and accepted it as a gift from another side. Today, I focus on the spiritual balance of both life and death with my own music. It’s a wonderfully simple yet powerful way to live.
Until the release of “Lucky 13” I had immersed myself into New Orleans funk music. I was fortunate to pick up a gig with Leo Nocentelli of the Meters as a bass player. Leo was a great mentor to me in my developing years. That relationship introduced me to many other New Orleans musicians including John Gros, formerly of Papa Grows Funk, Papa Mali and Eric Lindell. All of which I have performed with over the years while honing in my own musical craft.
What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?
I can honestly there are a few that were life game changers for me, The Meters “Rejuvenation” James Brown’s “The Big Payback”and Willie Dixon’s “I am the Blues”.
What song do you remember most from your childhood?
“Trouble Funk Express” by Trouble Funk
What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far? I am very proud to have the new Babaux and the Peacemakers release “Lucky 13” be ranked on the RMR charts at #1 for the TOP Colorado Albums, #2 on the Roots Rock TOP 50 Albums and #3 on the Rock TOP 50 Album charts for the past month. I am very happy that people are listening around the country as well as overseas!
Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.
Without a doubt it was my performance with Bo Diddley during his 75th birthday celebration tour. Playing with him was an honor and being able to speak to him about the music industry and hear his stories were priceless.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
When you release an album, let the world around you decide what they think about it, let them chatter and absorb the songs while you continue to write your album. Art is a constant process. This is release #13 for my career, and yes, Babaux and the Peacemakers are recording album #2 as we speak.
What's new in the recording of your music? How has your music changed over the years?
“Lucky 13” is a bare bone, stripped down and honestly simple recording. Most of it was recorded live. I wanted to keep it simple as well as maintain an old school feel, free of multiple overdubs. The haunting and vintage vibe of the recording was very important to us.
What inspires you to write the music you write? What made you want to play the instrument you play? Honesty is essential to me when writing songs on the resonator guitar. The music found in our release of “Lucky 13” is just that. It’s stripped down, bare bones, exposed. I’ve chosen to explore what’s inside me rather than be crafty when it comes to songwriting, and it feels good. It feels honest and true, like love can be. I surround myself with my family most of the time, they are my inspiration for much of my music. The dobro, especially when played with the finger slide, creates a deep connection to my soul that I think is tied to both sorrow and happiness. I think it’s a beautiful expression that has also opened up new song writing doors for me as an artist.
How does your latest album differ from any of your others in the past? Do you feel like you are continuing to grow musically?
The bare bones approach to the production of “Lucky 13” is an honest listen to what we can accomplish in the live arena. I love that this project decided to go in that direction because it shoots from the heart and hits you right in the ears.
If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be?
I’d love to team up and perform with Gov’t Mule or Derek Trucks or Bonnie Raitt someday. Their music hits home with me and I think their experience would offer a band like Babaux and the Peacemakers a lot of inspiration from both a musical and philosophical perspective.
How does music affect you and the world around you?
I think music will always be the true universal language. It crosses boarders freely; its rhythms and melodies be found in nature if you listen. The impact of music is enormous; it brings people together, it calms, it’s an escape, it heals, it enlightens, it makes people happy. All you have to do is listen.
What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?
Being able to team up with other musicians who give a constant flow of positive energy/inspiration to the creative process. I’ve found that with the Babaux and the Peacemakers project.
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
Honesty is essential to me when writing songs on the resonator guitar. The music found in our release of “Lucky 13” is just that. It’s stripped down, bare bones, exposed. I’ve chosen to explore what’s inside me rather than be crafty when it comes to songwriting, and it feels good. It feels honest and true, like love can be. I surround myself with my family most of the time, they are my inspiration for much of my music. The dobro, especially when played with the finger slide, creates a deep connection to my soul that I think is tied to both sorrow and happiness. I think it’s a beautiful expression that has also opened up new song writing doors for me as an artist.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I have dual citizenship in USA and Italy.
Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry. Be accepting of all cultures. It creates spiritual awareness that will have a positive affect the people around you as well as create a mirror for individual reflection and balance. The awareness taught me that by having an open mind towards each another’s beliefs, it will lead you to mindfulness state, which leads to creation, which leads to happiness. When various minds connect in a positive way, we have the power to heal. It’s that openness that creates the spiritual tools that help mankind build positive relationships with each other. I believe that music is a gift from above and it is meant to help us find our personal balance that in turn can be used to create a greater community balance.
What are your interests outside of music?
Family, Solar photovoltaics, landscape architecture, travel.
How do you promote your band and shows?
What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.
Our website: www.babauxandthepeacemakers.com
Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?
We have a new website being built www.babauxandthepeacemakers.com Our store currently has our “Lucky 13” release in vinyl, CD or USB stick format.
Are you available for private parties? If so, how would someone contact you about booking?
Yes. Contact our management via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What's next for your band?
We are planning some tours to the Northeast as well as the Southeast as a result of the positive amount of radio play we have been receiving. The release is currently #2 in the USA for the RMR Roots Rock TOP 50 Albums and has been in the TOP #3 for a full month. It’s time to think about management and how to get in front of more people to share the music. We’d like to be included in the festival circuit in 2023.