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Friday people: Simon Smith

The 40-year-old musician is the founder and organiser of the 7 Hills Blues Festival in Armagh. He lives in the village of Madden with his partner Nuala Haughey

Nuala and I met five years ago at a fancy dress party. She was dressed as Heidi and the closest description I could think of for my costume was a gangsta Santa Claus. I was wearing a suit, long beard and Gandalf wig. It was the original blind date – she had no idea what I looked like for the whole evening because of the costume. Nuala is currently doing her PhD in counselling and psychology. We have two dogs at home, Charlie and Tattie (below). They're the ones that run the household.

I have a bar in the house and every Thursday night is poker night. Martin Smith, Justin Feeney, Stephen Smith, Freddie Smith and Shay McMahon all come over and everyone puts £5 in the pot.

The Smiths are all cousins of mine, Shay is a brother-in-law and Justin is a mate.

If someone wins £20 at the end of the night they turn into an expert at cards and start giving you insider tips.

I'm the managing director of SFS Armagh, a fire-prevention company which my dad started in 1986 – he's retired now. I'm the middle child of seven – I have four brothers and two sisters and we're a close family. My brother Johnny plays drums in the band Crowbar Blues with me. We're certainly a musical family, it comes from my dad. He's been playing the trombone for 40 years and will be performing with the Newry Big Band at the festival.

It has to be my partner Nuala. I go to my parents too, of course, but Nuala has been listening to me for five years and she's training to be a professional counsellor so she's the best for advice.

My secret crush ... Kate Beckinsale

I liked her when when she starred in Van Helsing because it's the only thing I've ever seen her in. I have a thing for the Gothic look and that was just right up my street.

Ian is the founder of the Blues On The Bay Festival in Warrenpoint. He was a great help to me from the very beginning of the 7 Hills festival and has never once seen us as any kind of competition.

It's going to be all musicians for me, which is a bit obvious. I would ask Muddy Waters because he was probably the best Blues man that ever lived. Next I would ask Angus Young, the guitarist of AC/DC. He's in his 60s but still runs around the stage like a mad thing playing like a man half his age. Then, it would be Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top with the long beard.

He might get it stuck in his custard, which would make the table laugh.

Finally, Rory Gallagher (left), a Blues legend described by Jimi Hendrix as his favourite guitar player.


The 7 Hills Blues festival runs from Thursday to Sunday, August 8-11. Visit

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