If there’s a wizard that secretly controls the music industry, Babyface would probably be the one behind the curtain. Face has crafted the sound and story behind countless hit records and iconic artists, at times writing and producing entire albums for artists, propelling them to stardom and helping them win Grammy’s, while the ageless producer sits back and watches the world he created in his own divine image.
Entire music departments at universities could be dedicated to understanding Babyface's expansive reach. And he's helped make a whole lot more than music. As an artist and as a producer, he has been actively creating baby-making music for more than 40 years — the sheer number of children born into this world as a result of Babyface's efforts must be astonishing.
To give you an idea of just who Face has helped launch into the stratosphere, he’s essentially the human embodiment of Motown records. His label, LaFace Records — started with fellow musician-turned-music-mogul Antonio “LA” Reid — had TLC, Toni Braxton, and Usher as early signers. TLC’s album CrazySexyCool from 1994 remains the all-time best-selling album by an American female group. Babyface wrote several songs on the LP, TLC's second studio album, including “Red Light Special,” basically a song about making sure your man eats pussy.
Babyface wrote the majority of the songs for Toni Braxton’s first two albums — 1993’s Toni Braxtion and 1996’s Secrets, including the mega-hit “You’re Makin’ Me High.” He has been an absolute Queen maker; I’m not gonna lie, writing that feels a little misogynistic, but Face’s influence runs deep — he made the music, wrote the lyrics, and produced the records. How a guy can write pop records for a woman artist and they hit as hard as they do and impact culture as deeply as they have, it’s a wonder.
And Babyface's force stretches far and wide, as he's worked with artists the likes of Phil Collins, Mary J Blige, Beyoncé , Ariana Grande, NSYNC, Zendaya, and Chaka Khan, to name a few. He's also racked up a slew of hits for himself. Babyface will be bringing his endless catalog of love jams to Miramar this week and you aren’t going to want to miss it. 8 p.m. Friday, February 7 at Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Pl., Miramar; 954-602-4200; miramarculturalcenter.org. Tickets start at $65 via ticketmaster.com.
Since we are on the topic of iconic figures, we should inform our readers that Kris Kristofferson is coming to town this week. One of the most versatile artists the U.S. has bred, Kristofferson has several Grammy awards, he’s a great actor (his role as Whistler in the Blade series was fucking iconic), he was a football star, a Golden Gloves boxer, and a Rhodes scholar. He’s weathered from his years of adventure and experience, and that makes for great country songs. He’s been known to tour with John Prine in the past and his brand of folk-country has given us hits like "Sunday Morning Coming Down," "Me and Bobby McGee," and "Help Me Make It Through the Night" — all hits off his album Kristofferson, released in 1970. "Me and Bobby McGee" has been covered by countless artists from Janis Joplin to Waylon Jennings.
As a songwriter, Kristofferson is cut from the ilk of Merle Haggard and Willy Nelson. A true Renaissance man who, at age 83, is still kicking ass. Evidently Kristofferson got the attention of Johnny Cash — after several failed attempts to get him to listen to his demos — by landing a helicopter on the Man in Black’s front lawn (yes, he’s also a helicopter pilot), purportedly holding a beer in one hand and his records in the other. However, stories like these can just as easily be a crock of shit, but lets pretend that the myth is as big as the man. 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 4 at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222; parkerplayhouse.com. Tickets start at $52.50 via ticketmaster.com.
The Shivas stepped out of the woods of Oregon in 2006 and haven’t looked back. There’s a long, glorious history in Portland of nurturing and acting as a DIY incubator of sorts for indie bands. When you come up in a well-protected and vibrant scene like Portland's, there is a heavy emphasis on a band's ability to destroy the crowd when they perform live. The Shivas cut their teeth in this style. They play with a purpose that comes from within. The Shivas are such a true-to-form rock band that when they get in the studio to record an album, they do everything in their power to record it as if it’s a live performance. The trio harmonizes while they show off the influences that have corrupted them. You can hear beach rock and '50s pop, rockabilly, and plenty of kicks to go with the distorted riot, like on their song "Turn Me On" from their most recent album, Dark Thoughts.With Electric Supply Co. and Vagnauts. 8 p.m. Friday, February 7 at Voltaire, 526 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-408-5603; sub-culture.org/voltaire. Tickets start at $5 at eventbrite.com.
The Reign of Kindo
If you are looking for more of a musical exploration experience, check out the Reign of Kindo. They’re an eclectic band that has its own framework for what music should sound like. There is so much going on with this band, it’s unbelievable they are able to construct the quality of music they have. You hear elements of heavy rock, jazz percussion, and funk all swirled into a bowl with a dose of pop R&B just to make things a bit sexy. The Reign of Kindo will be performing their album Rhythm, Chord & Melody in its entirety.7 p.m. Wednesday, February 5 at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-408-5603; sub-culture.org/respectable-street. Tickets are $15 via etix.com.
Well, per usual, we can’t round out a Best Concerts post without throwing a little bit of youth angst at you. Have no fear, Teenage Bottlerocket is heading our way. Watch out for kids on skateboards looking to run your pockets and steal your girlfriend with a wicked 360 flip. As a bunch of punk ass kids like to do, Teenage Bottlerocket talks shit about metalheads in their music and take shots at bands like Kiss just for good measure. The band may have formed back in 2000, but they are just as punk as ever. They dropped their most recent album in March of last year, titled Stay Rad, it’s a quick-hitting, 14-track album that has the typical short songs that hit hard and fast before they are on to the next track and leaving the listener with a bloody nose.With Tightwire, Whiskey Walls, and Death Lottery. 7:30 p.m., Sunday, February 9 at Propaganda, 6 S. J St., Lake Worth; 561-547-7273; propagandalw.com. Tickets start at $25.