By Ade Peachment

Of all the festival experiences I’ve enjoyed, one truly stands out. Picture the scene, an overcast deer park in Herefordshire and the final day of the Big Chill Festival. We’re heading to the stage, whilst The Politician by Lou Rawls plays. Then Bowie’s Kooks crackles into life, followed by Pentangle, and Chaka’s Live In Me. The tone is set early; a lovely deep vibe built over the entire show. The DJ in question is Sir Norman Jay MBE whose every selection is perfect for each moment. When the sun comes out during Everybody Loves The Sunshine and Les Fleurs, it feels elemental. A banner proclaimed “Norman is God” and who was I to argue? He seamlessly went from well-crafted Gamble and Huff productions, to killer funk bombs, from soulful Americana to soaring gospel house and all points in between. Finishing off with a banging Ultra Flava, the crowd goes crazy.

Revered worldwide amongst music fans and respected as the “DJ’s DJ” Norman Jay MBE is a taste maker who has been flying the flag for good music over the last four decades. One of the most celebrated and accomplished DJs in Britain he’s DJ’d at many parties for the celebrity set including: Robert Di Niro, Michael Caine, George Michael, Will Smith, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and Jamiroquai. Paul Weller has called Norman his favourite DJ and Mick Jagger requested him to play his 50th birthday party.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the great man and have a chat about the Good Times party he’s bringing to the De La Warr Pavilion on 21st July. I asked him if he was looking forward to the gig and what we could expect. ‘It’s a DJ variety event with something for everyone. It’s a new concept for us which will go down well, with some great people involved.’ There will be an afternoon and evening party with DJ sets from David Rodigan and Norman on the outdoor terrace, followed by The Cuban Brothers in the main Auditorium, and a second closing set from NJ. I mention the Big Chill, which he remembers fondly, ‘I’m often referred to as the best festival DJ and that’s down in part to those Sunday sessions.’ Originally offered the Saturday night he wanted to play a less restrictive set, with a more eclectic vibe, taking his favourite records out into a festival environment, ‘I said I’ll come on the Sunday and be the aural aspirin’. Those Sunday sessions gained legendary status in the same calibre as Glastonbury.

Norman Jay MBE will always be renowned for Notting Hill Carnival and his Good Times Soundsystem at West Row which ran for almost 40 years; a converted double decker bus surrounded by hundreds of ‘the best club crowd in the country’. I attended many a Good Times Carnival and the atmosphere was electric. Big up the wall posse! NJ remains fiercely proud of those parties and the music he played, ’My gig, my corner of London where I grew up.’ He coined the term ‘Rare Groove’ and with his Cratediggers website predated music forums by years. He’s really excited about bringing that Good Times Carnival vibe to the South Coast, and with connections in Hastings/Bexhill he knows it’ll be the perfect place for a launch party. There are lots of plans for taking the ‘Good Times Travelling Circus’ around the country to various river locations, which sounds really exciting. This will be an unmissable gig with a chance to dance outside to GT tunes. A classic in
the making and as they say, ‘Norman always brings out the sun.’

Good Times by The Sea with Norman Jay (MBE) David Rodigan (MBE) and Cuban Brothers at The De La Warr Pavilion Sunday 21st July
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