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Q&A John O'Connell talks Groundpig, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

THIS weekend sees the re-launch of Beat in the Mersey, a tour which tells the city's history through words and song. It features city historian Ron Noon, with musical contributions from Peter Hooton, Ian Prowse and John O''Connell, and takes place in the grand old Cunard Building. I caught up with John to find out more for this week's ECHO music Q&A. Tell us about your next Liverpool gig.

My next gig is something a little bit special and a little bit different. I am part of the cast performing in Beat in the Mersey which is a Musical History Tour of the Cunard Building, plus afternoon tea and a glass of prosecco. It is part of the International Festival for Business and so there are three performances this week one on Friday at 1pm and two on Saturday 11am and 1pm respectively. Which song is stuck in your head today? I popped into Liverpool city centre today and Breakaway by Gallagher and Lyle was playing in one of the shops and it has stayed with me since. It is a lovely song from the mid 1970s and one I used to play quite a lot. What's on your iPod/stereo today? At the moment I am listening to one of my favourite Bob Dylan albums, Shot of Love. It is work in progress as I''m always looking to expand my Simply Dylan repertoire and the band has recently learned Heart of Mine from this album for our acoustic set.

What was the first album you bought? After the Gold Rush by Neil Young, first released in 1970, was the first album I ever bought, from the open market opposite TJ Hughes. Which musician do you most admire, and why? There are so many. In terms of a musician the guitarist Julian Bream because of his amazing technique; he plays with so much passion and is a superb lute player too. James Taylor is a singer who I have always admired for his amazing phasing, tone and clarity. With respect to songwriting then for me it has to be Bob Dylan. I think he has written something like 500 plus songs. He has such a diverse style of writing appealing to so many; his story telling and lyrical content are so cleverly formed. Artists today from all different genres still cover his songs which is a testament to his longevity and sheer brilliance. What are your three favourite albums of all time? Box of Love by Bert Jansch, Saved by Bob Dylan and The Hermit by Renbourn. Tell us about a great band we might not have heard of.

I was fortunate to be introduced to and work with singer songwriter Laura James a couple of years ago. She is incredibly talented with an exquisite voice and is an impressive songwriter.

Have you ever been told you look like anyone famous? When I was younger people used to say I looked like Barry Sheen but these days Colin Harvey the ex-Everton footballer.

If we ended up in a karaoke club, what would you sing? Like Sister and Brother by the Drifters.

What song would you like played at your funeral? Blues Run the Game by Jackson C. Frank. There have been others who have covered it but it would have to be his version.

What was your most embarrassing moment? Asking an A-list celebrity for a photograph to which he turned and responded with a straight "No!" What is your most treasured possession? My 1983 Ovation Folklore guitar. It''s a pretty special model so if you''re selling, I''m buying!

What's the funniest thing you've ever heard said or written about you? I used to play Kelly''s wine bar on Smithdown Road and we were advertised on the menu board as Groundpig and underneath it said 'Soup of the Day''. One customer actually came in and ordered a bowl of Ground Pig, I''m not entirely sure what she was expecting!

Facebook or Twitter? It still has to be Facebook for me although I''m making good progress; my posts feed directly into Twitter now!

Close your eyes. If I was your fairy godmother, what would your three wishes be? 1. A cure for cancer 2. For my children to be proud of who I am and not what I do 3. To re-live one of my favourite Groundpig gigs, a Saturday night in Daley''s Dandelion? Beat in the Mersey takes place today and tomorrow at the Cunard Building. Tickets from www.chellew-productions.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 13, 2014
Words:752
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