Kristo is the performing name of Chris Baricevic, the brain behind Big Muddy Records in St. Louis, MO. For the past decade he has been cultivating a scene that produced roots music artists from Missouri like Pokey LaFarge, the Hooten Hallers, Rum Drum Ramblers, Bob Reuter and Jack Grelle. Now he has adopted a new moniker to share an album that showcases his own interpretation of American Music. “Happy Camp” is a kaleidoscope of folk, country, and rock & roll on which Kristo performs every instrument. The songs possess a lo-fi charm that achieve a focused vision of off-kilter beauty. The result is a cohesive swirl of color around a malleable palette of Americana.
The impulse to create “Happy Camp” stems from the death of Bob Reuter, a friend and artist who recorded on Big Muddy Records. As a producer, Kristo coached Reuter into a late-in-life career turnaround while helping him put together his band, Alley Ghost, and producing the regionally acclaimed album “Born There”. The years that followed Bob’s death were dark but opened a door to creativity that centered on artistic growth through grief management.
Baricevic took the name Kristo and created the term “Happy Camp” as an action of resurrection and rebirth. The album’s name is reference to a state of mind in which healing takes place alongside love, friendship, and art. With this frame of reference, he recorded the songs one instrument at a time with a vintage dual-channel tube preamp and a collection of old German microphones.
The world has heard glimpses of Kristo’s music throughout the Big Muddy catalog and has, at times, heard his words on the recordings of artists like Pokey LaFarge (“Daffodil Blues”, “Anita”) and the Hooten Hallers (“Outer Space”, “40 Oz. to Memphis”). But with his debut album “Happy Camp”, we are introduced to a candid view of the strange shapes and inviting sounds moving through Kristo’s head.