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All the best: Colin Magee on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 58-year-old Panarts director is the founder and director of the Belfast Nashville Songwriters' Festival. He lives in Belfast with his wife, Anne Coulter.

My best moment

The debut concert at the first songwriters' festival in 2005. We had Buddy Mondlock and Brian Houston on the stage at the Malone Lodge Hotel. The event was five years in the making so seeing it actually happen was fantastic. We had created something which hadn't existed before in the UK or Ireland.

My best song

For A Dancer by Jackson Browne is my favourite and I love to sing it. It makes me feel good even though it's a sad song. The melody is really special.

My best way to relax

Apart from eating out in one of the many fine restaurants near where I live in Ballyhackamore, I love to sit and play the guitar. Playing and writing songs is the best way for me to chill out.

My best job

Being the festival director. There's something very special about someone asking you if you want to hear a new song. That's my favourite part of the job. Anne and I set up the festival because there was very little support for songwriters and few places to play. This is a great opportunity to put songwriters in the spotlight. I don't think we expected it to last beyond three years, never mind more than 10. And we had to get a loan to get through the second year. However, the more involved we got the more we realised people were interested those who write songs.

My best bit of advice

Anne is always telling me to live life to the full. It's all about making the right choices and doing things that make us happy. As a couple we tend to get caught up in what we do so it's a reminder to travel and play music for ourselves.

My best achievement

Raising enough money from the first Panarts project in 1992 to take 16 unemployed people to America for three months as part of a music showcase. We drove through nine different states playing at universities that had Irish studies departments. After that trip all 16 people became professional musicians.

My best movie

I'm a big fan of film maker Ken Loach. And the movie that has stuck in my head since I was a child is Kes which is about a boy and a kestrel.

My best buy

A limited edition Ovation guitar which was bought on that American road trip 25 years ago. I still have the guitar and it sits in my living room and reminds me of the good times we had.

My best book

While I'm not a fan of fiction I love to read poetry. I regularly dip in and out of Poets of the North which is an anthology of poems by people like Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and John Hewitt. It's lovely to read a short poem and then set the book down and go off and think about it.

My best gift

A ukulele that Anne got me for my 50th birthday. It's an instrument which is impossible to play without smiling ... and it's easier to carry around than a guitar.

  • The Belfast Nashville Songwriters' Festival runs from March 1-5. For tickets and information visit belfastnashville.com

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