51st State Festival 2016 Rocked It!

Started On :: 18/08/2016 - Ended On :: 18/09/2016

What a perfect day for a music festival! I was about to pop my 51st State cherry and judging by the line-up I knew I would not be disappointed as it boasted some of my favourite House music DJ’s and singers doing PA’s.

DJ ADB & Songwriter Mandy Newton

Caron Wheeler and Soul II Soul

Thankfully I was right. The stellar line-up was just that… STELLAR and the sun had appeared with 24 degree force. Cockfoster’s picturesque Trent Park was transformed with 6 stages of high-energy dance music – House, Soul, Funk, Rare Groove, UK Garage, Reggae, Dub and Bashment.

Barbara Tucker with Louie Vega and  TonyHumphries

Soul II Soul’ s Jazzie B and Caron Wheeler had everyone at the main stage on a reminiscing joy ride back to the days of the Africa Centre with, “Back To Life,” and

“What’s The Meaning Of Life?” Caron’s silky vocals still sounded as sweet as decades ago. Backstage The Original Funki Dread, Jazzie B OBE, happily stopped to take photos with everyone who asked. Smiling and chatting he really was a cool dude.

His persona portrayed his motto of “A happy face, a thumpin bass, for a lovin’ race.”

Angela D Douglas and Jazzie B OBE

“Boo, inna you face.” Ms Dynamite greeted me in the “Back To 95” stage tent. Clearly it was the fullest, hottest and liveliest of all. A cocktail of weed and smoke machine smoke obscured the DJ so I had no idea who was playing, but the atmosphere was electric rammed with youngers not afraid to P.A.R.T.Y! I decided  90’s UK Garage must be like older peoples 70’s Rare Groove. So, you grow up listening to your parent’s favourite tunes then they become the foundation for your musical taste. You get me?

Monique Bingham on Groove Odyssey stage

My memories of sweaty nights spent at the Gas Club, Sun City and Twice As Nice doing the “push and pull dance” came flooding back.  It was a shame I didn’t get to see Adeva’s performance or Spoony spinning on the decks (fingers crossed for 2017).

The wonderful soulful jazz infused house singer/songwriter Monique Bingham performed in the “Groove Odyssey” tent. Fighting the heat in a full-length red sequinned dress she proved why she’s making waves on the South African house scene. The audience sang along to, “Elevator (Going Up),” produced by DJ/ producer Louie Vega who would spin later on the main stage.


After back stage snaps I was introduced to another beautiful D.I.V.A. Mandy Newton who penned Mica Paris’ 1991 hit, “Young Soul Rebels.”  Wow, what a pleasure as that song is one of my top tunes. She really was a ray of sunshine.

Then, Femi Fem and “We Love Soul” crew slammed 80’s soul, funk and Rare Groove classics to a lively crowd. Unfortunately, some sets and PA’s didn’t run to time, as per normal at these events. After a long wait Roy Ayres took centre stage, but his frustration with the poor set up was evident as he struggled against soundless vibraphone and microphone issues. Astonishingly they hadn’t even plugged them in, and the engineers scrambled to find the plugs!! Roy wasn’t happy but he carried on singing, “Everybody Loves The Sunshine.”

David Morales, Tony Humphries and Louie Vega

But, the US “King’s of House” stole the show for me. As the sunset Barbara Tucker stormed through, “Beautiful People” looking like a blaxploitation heroine with Afro, platforms and spider lashes, while The Master of House, Louie Vega, really got into his groove to delight the rapturous crowd. Dance, dance, dance they did. Wearing his trademark outfit - black fedora, black shades, black T and MAW pendant he dipped and twiddled the knobs for seem-less mix after mix. Then David Morales and Tony Humphries took their turns as dusk fell across Enfield.

Considering the hefty 12,500 attendance, and the major concerns I heard later by unhappy revellers who wasted 2 hours party time waiting to get into the grounds, and then if that wasn’t enough a further hour to buy drinks tokens, THEN another hour to actually order drinks at the bar, all I saw was love, joy and peace.

Freedom Love Joy Peace

Once of my joys came from the delicious jerk chicken wrap I ate from the jerk stall. I wasn’t surprised they ran out of food before sundown. (Please book them next year )

So, as my friend said, “51st State Festival is like Notting Hill Carnival BUT BETTER!” and I agree. It’s still in fruition but once they sort out the teething problems I definitely insist you add this to your annual festival diary.

Littered with A-List DJ’s on so many stages, it’s impossible to see everyone on your list, but that just means you have to go again next year!

Big thanks to Freya and Josh at The Rest Is Noise PR.


Photography by Angela D. Douglas, NubianSmile.com

 By Angela D. Douglas aka @Diva Got Soul