Jerry Rivera

It happens to the best of us. Jerry Rivera, the onetime salsa wunderkind famous for singing about his baby face (and for exclaiming in a petulant tone "Baby!"), is not quite so babyish anymore. "A little kid called me sir," he exclaims in shock. Still safely under 30, Rivera is not exactly getting on in years. It's just that the style of music, romantic salsa, that he rode to fame a decade ago has grown old and tired.

A favorite target of disgruntled salsa purists, the young Rivera and his 1993 smash Cara de Niño (Baby Face) represented all that was wrong with the commercialization of the genre: Pretty-faced boys crooning sissy lyrics stole the spotlight from serious, macho salseros. "It's not my fault they failed," Rivera shrugs, immune to the critique after years of abuse. But in more recent years, Rivera himself has had less luck in keeping up with the times.

Last year brought Rivera, an ill-conceived -- and critically savaged -- collection of ballads. This year Rivera retreated to salsa on Vuela Muy Alto (Fly High), alternating between the tropical and the trite. He's even thrown in a few cute little "Babys" this time around. But even Rivera himself is looking for something else to do. "I'd really like to do soft rock," he confesses. Well, better luck with that, sir


Jerry Rivera

Bongos, 601 Biscayne Blvd.

Performs Friday, October 11, Tickets cost $30 to $35. Call for details, 305-885-8767.


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