EARLIER this month, he was playing to 80,000 cheering fans at the Olympic closing ceremony celebration. Now he is embarking on something he insists is even more exciting – hosting his own festival.

His band Blur may have played their last gig, but for Alex James there is no time to rest.

The bass player-turned-gentleman-farmer-and-cheesemaker is hard at work preparing to once again open up his West Oxfordshire farm to thousands of festival-goers for a weekend-long celebration of music and food.

And he can’t wait for it to happen.

“Hyde Park was the perfect celebration of a glorious British summer,” he says.

“To play music with my friends in front of an 80,000-strong London crowd was just amazing. But this is what I’m thinking about now.”

Up to 20,000 people are expected at his farm near Kingham, on Saturday and Sunday for his Big Feastival, which will be presented by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

And while Blur bandmates Damon, Graham Coxon and Dave Rowntree are unlikely to make an appearance, the farm will play host to some pretty big names, with Paloma Faith, Razorlight, Texas, Gaz Coombes and Guillemots, Noisettes, Sister Sledge, Producers and The Cuban Brothers all lined up to play.

But music is only a part of what The Big Feastival is about, he says.

“This is all about good food too,” he tells me over bottles of beer and chunks of his own chilli cheese, on the 200 acre-dairy farm he shares with his wife Claire, and their five children Geronimo, Artemis, Galileo, Sable and Beatrix.

So there will also be cooking demos from Jamie Oliver, Theo Randall, Simon Rogan, Bruno Loubet, Valentine Warner and Gennaro Contaldo. Joining them will be Emily Watkins, executive chef at Alex’s local, The Kingham Plough – holder of the Good Pub Guide’s County Dining Pub of the Year award.

Even the host will be showing off his culinary skills.

For a foodie and musician like Alex, it’s a stellar line-up.

“It’s great,” he says. “I’ve known Gaz for years and is a good old Oxford boy. Sister Sledge are familiar faces and the Noisettes are brilliant. But I’m also keen to have new musicians involved. There is so much new music in Britain.

“There are a lot of festivals but a lot are a bit meaningless; I want this to be special.”

The Big Feastival is not the first celebration of food and music to be hosted by Alex. Last year, the star opened his gates to Harvest, which saw the likes of KT Tunstall, The Kooks, Athlete and The Futureheads playing to thousands. Unfortunately, the company organising the event, Big Wheel Promotions, collapsed owing debts of £1m, including more than £57,000 to local firms.

Commotion, which raises money for Kingham Primary School helped out at the festival, and was also owed money which left it unable to pay for its music teacher.

A rescue concert headlined by Oxford jazz-swing group The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band was supported by Alex, who introduced the acts and personally matched all money raised.

This summer’s event, which will raise funds and awareness for The Jamie Oliver Foundation, is being organised by a different company, Brand Events, which has a proven track record of staging successful food events around the world.

“This is a completely different thing,” says Alex.

“Harvest made me realise it’s something that could be amazing. It had a lovely atmosphere and I enjoyed it. And we realised the way forward was to come back with this. And this time the organisers really know what they are doing.

“The only thing you can do is move on and be brilliant!”

“We’ve learned a lot from last year and I am so thankful that we’ve managed to persuade Jamie to get involved.

“He did the Big Feastival in London last year, but also wanted to do it in the countryside and this is an amazing site.”

He is looking forward to getting back together with Jamie, who also happens to be a keen drummer.

“We felt we had the same audience,” he adds. “We’ve got a lot in common, We’ve played together, we’ve both got kids; he’s got four and I’ve got five.

“Together we thought we could pull off a pretty spectacular food and music weekend.”

And there will also be a some surprises. “We want to get a new band together. We don’t have a name yet – but we could call it the Farm Loving Criminals!”