DJ Jaybird Flies High On The Local Music Scene

Photo by BILL WINE | Contributing Photographer

After his first year of college as a music major, Jay Campbell faced the realization he could make one of two career choices: music teacher or opera singer.

Deciding neither were the type of living he desired, he left Western Kentucky University for an internship at Disney World, where he soon found his calling at, of all places, a pool party.

“While I was down there (at Disney World), I was going to the pool and there was a DJ like every Thursday that came out to the pool, this like really pretty girl, so I flirted with her and I was like, ‘Hey, I want to do what you do,’ I said some silly line like that,” Campbell explained.

Proceeding to ask for her phone number, Campbell left the pool eager to give the mystery girl a call, but discovered that the married woman – unbeknownst to him – had handed Campbell the number of her boss.

“I called (the number) and the guy was like, ‘So you want to be a DJ?’ and I was like, ‘Sure … Sure … Yeah?’” he said, recalling feeling hesitant to say yes.

Campbell chose to give the DJ gig a try anyway and traveled to Tampa Bay Busch Gardens to help set up equipment for a Thursday night teen party filled with nearly 3,000 attendees.

Amazed, yet overwhelmed, by his first real glimpse of the life of a disc jockey, Campbell returned to Bowling Green, Ky., and looked up as many DJ companies he could find – only two in the city.

“I went and worked at Silverado’s,” Campbell said of his first DJing gig at the age of 19. “It was a biker bar on the bottom and a karaoke Nascar bar on the top.”

Thus, DJ “Jaybird” was born and in 2002, Campbell met Mike Ballard, owner of Lightwave DJ Service, and began spinning full time, while also teaching ballroom dancing. Campbell tried his hand at audio engineering, as well, but with a packed schedule, he was forced to decide on which career he’d most like to focus.

Despite its grueling lifestyle, Campbell knew which path he was meant to pursue. Now the owner of his own company, More Than Entertainment, Campbell is highly sought after and booked both for voice-over work and deejaying, which reaches its peak season for him from the time of Derby through October.

More involved than ever on the party scene, Campbell’s the official DJ of Macy’s in Louisville and official DJ of The Voice-Tribune’s Third Thursday After-Work Parties.

He’s also involved in many community-oriented festivities, including playing the Lady Antebellum concert held for Henryville High School. Additionally, Campbell can be  found spinning at a club or two. “I always try to keep a club gig so that brides and grooms or whoever wants to book me can come out and see kind of what I do,” he said.

Unlike the typically niched disc jockey, Campbell is known as a mobile DJ. “What I really specialize in is the mobile DJ set, and that is being able to take a room of 200 strangers and getting them up and moving and dancing and having a good time to whatever music they’re into.”

With or without the input from his client as to what music the crowd will most like, Campbell is able to discern a dance floor and match the tunes to the people inside the venue. Working the mic, a skill he mastered through his eight-year stint with Radio Disney, also gives him the ability to enliven even the most apathetic assembly.

With more than an estimated 100,000 songs in his library, plus the unlimited number he can download on the spot from iTunes or YouTube, Campbell can virtually play any track a person would request and memorizes most people’s favorites.

“I always remember people’s music,” Campbell said. “If somebody says, ‘Oh, I like this,’ and then they dance to it, I’ll always remember that. To me it’s like building a relationship with the audience.”

Whether a prom, high school reunion,  middle school dance or “hipster” wedding, Campbell is capable of pleasing just about any audience. “I think that’s what I like most about my job is I’m not stuck to playing one type of thing,” he said.

Hoping to eventually retire as a senior citizen in Florida, where there’s a heavy Latin crowd, for now Campbell is perfectly content remaining in Louisville to live out his dream.

With a new job at Mainline Broadcasting, he’d like to one day host his own radio show while deejaying on the side, and maybe become “Terry Meiners famous.” And, though he hasn’t celebrated New Year’s Eve in the last decade without wearing his DJ hat, nor can he recall the last wedding he attended as an actual guest, Campbell, undoubtedly, wouldn’t trade his job for the world.

“It’s a lot of weekends, and it’s a lot of holidays, and times when everyone else is doing fun things,” he said. “And I have to go and DJ. But I just get a really great sense of fulfillment from doing it.”

Quick ‘Hits’ With DJ JayBird

What are your go-to songs?
“(Line dances) are every DJ’s go-to. And if they say they don’t play the line dances, they lie. Those are the go-to songs. The top ones still are “The Wobble,” “The Cupid Shuffle” and the “Cha Cha Slide,” sort of in that order of popularity.

Top 3 wedding songs you despise?
1. “Butterfly Kisses” – overdone. “Still a beautiful song, but I really don’t like it.”
2. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” – “It’s like the No. 1 bouquet toss song and I don’t like it anymore. I would much rather (play) ‘Single Ladies.’”
3. “Never Gonna Give You Up” – “Never “Rick Roll” your wedding.”

Song that will get the shyest person on the dance floor?
“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gay

Song that will get you on the dance floor?
“Carnival” by Celia Cruz.

Top three songs of all time on your playlist?
1. “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool
2. “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
3. “Friends In Low Places” by Garth Brooks
“Those three songs will work no matter what, any time I play them.”

Advice to a couple looking for a DJ for their wedding?
“I definitely think that you should meet with your DJ and like the personality of your DJ before booking them. And I think that’s extremely, extremely important, that you need to meet the actual person that’s playing your show and have seen them play if possible.”

Get Down On The Dancefloor After BD2012

Come check out DJ Jaybird at the after-party for The Voice-Tribune’s Best Dressed of Louisville Presented by Churchill Downs. Held at St. Charles Exchange, 113 S. Seventh St., immediately after the big Best Dressed event on Saturday, Aug. 25, you’ll enjoy dancing, signature cocktails and mingle with some of Louisville’s most fashionable. The after-party is free for BD2012 attendees or $10 at the door if you’re only attending the after-party. For more information, visit www.voice-tribune.com.