Michael Jackson’s Guitarist Jennifer Batten Does House Show In Seaside

Sources: Monterey County Now – By Adam Joseph | All Things Michael


Jennifer Batten oozes genius, eccentricity and punk mystique. Sporting an oversized puff of bleached hair, Batten does things on her custom Ibanez Roadstar electric guitar that make Steve Vai and Joe Satriani look stuck in slow motion.

Her command of the fretboard, as she bends, swells, taps and employs 100 mph riffs, ultimately earned her a spot as the lead guitarist on Michael Jackson’s Bad tour. Batten, 29 at the time, had been teaching and gigging around Los Angeles daily, barely making a living wage, when she won the life-changing opportunity. The New York City native beat out more than a hundred guitar talents hand-picked to audition.

“It was like a paid vacation,” Batten told music writer Charles Thomson. “I was working seven nights a week and all of a sudden I’m on the biggest tour in the world, making 10 times the money and only working two or three days a week.”

After two years on the road in front of more than 5 million people, Batten stowed away “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” and got to work on her solo debut Above Below and Beyond. Produced by Stevie Wonder guitarist Michael Sembello, the instrumental rock album features innovative originals along with unique takes on everything from John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” to Otis Redding’s “Respect.”

Batten joined the King of Pop again for his Dangerous world tour; she and Jackson also performed the halftime show at Superbowl XXVII. The broadcast aired in 80 countries to an estimated 1.5 billion, which was the largest audience in television history.

Before Batten set out on her third and final tour with MJ – in support of his double album HIStory – she released Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage~Momentum, a mash-up of didgeridoo, steel drums, bagpipes and African percussion that differs dramatically from her debut. Batten’s one-woman show is similarly multifaceted, weaving together guitar, electronica, vocal samples and film. Limited seats are available for her Seaside performance, which takes place at the Seaside home of Joe and Auburn Velasquez, a hidden-in-plain-sight indoor/outdoor house concert venue that’s hosted everyone from reggae jam band Dyemusica to Nashville singer-songwriters the Waymores.

Joe explains: “The Venue is an intimate experience where people can listen to great live music, make new friends, eat potluck dinners and meet artists.”

JENNIFER BATTEN (and Asian potluck). 8pm (7pm doors) Saturday, July 18. The Venue, Seaside. $20 (limited seating). 236-0220


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