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Intimate music shows put equal focus on fans, artists; it features lead guitarists to the stars, Jennifer Batten and Kat Dyson, Aug. 17

COURTESY PHOTO: SAM EMERSON - Jennifer Batten, who lives in Sandy, was by Michael Jackson's side through three world tours and the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show in 1993.There are famous people, and then there are people who knew famous people — talented and significant themselves, but not with the name recognition as the stars.

The idea behind Five Feet From Famous, the fledgling show that meshes meet-and-greets with music, brings lesser-known individuals to light.

In the next event, it's Jennifer Batten and Kat Dyson, Saturday, Aug. 17, at The Melody Event Center.

Dyson, from Los Angeles, played as lead guitarist with Prince on tour as a member of the New Power Generation, and currently plays with Cyndi Lauper.

Batten actually lives the quiet life in Sandy, having played lead guitar for Michael Jackson on tour for many years, and then with Jeff Beck. Batten played on Jackson's solo tours and with him at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993. She moved to Oregon several years ago, and has played some local gigs.

They have some stories to share.

"I've run in professional music circles, and I've approached meet-and-greets with disdain," said Jim James, producer of Five Feet From Famous. "People would spend a ton of money and get 30 seconds with the person, a photo, and then it's on to the next person.

"This is behind-the-music (storytelling) combined with a meet-and-greet with music at the end. It's on a stage with a big Persian rug, surrounded 360 degrees by the audience. The entertainers are on the same level as the audience, and it's interactive with the audience."

COURTESY PHOTO: KAT DYSON - Kat Dyson is part of Cyndi Lauper's band these days, and she was part of New Power Generation when it backed Prince.There'll also be video testimonials and music videos shown. At the end of their show Saturday, Batten and Dyson will play about a 45-minute set with a combination of Michael Jackson and Prince music.

"I want to redefine what the standard is for audience and artist interaction," James added. "Of course the audience wants (the interaction), but I've found artists are thirsting for it, too. They don't like cattle-call meet-and-greets either. They have a story to tell. As I tell them, 'As a musician, you had to have started out as a fan.' As soon as I do that, it strikes a chord with them."

It's the second Five Feet From Famous show. In May, it featured Eddie Martinez, who has lived in Portland for about two decades.

Martinez was lead guitar player for Robert Palmer during his hit-making days, as well as lead guitarist for Mick Jagger in the 1980s, for Run DMC during their mish-mashing hip-hop and rock era, and for David Lee Roth after he left Van Halen.

"People weren't aware of this guy's history," James said.

James said he would like to do one show every three months.

The Martinez event ended up being sold out. The Batten-Dyson show still has tickets left. They are $30-$60 and available at www.FiveFeetFromFamous.com. The show is at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at The Melody Event Center, 615 S.E. Alder St.

James' producing partner is Brent Rogers of Rex Post Studios. The show also has backing from producer David Cole, who has worked with Bob Seger for many years, as well as Geoff Metts of Five Star Guitars in Beaverton and Terry Currier of Music Millennium.


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