THE YOUNG ‘UNS – Strangers (Hereteu Records YNGS17)

StrangersThe Young’Uns have come a long way in a few short years. Strangers is their fourth studio album, coming a mere three years after they turned professional. The trio are strong singers, they enjoy the sort of on-stage banter that only good friends can get away with and they have a fine songwriter in Sean Cooney. The theme of the album is, I think, that there are no strangers, or if there are it doesn’t really make a difference. Cooney’s songs in this set are full of “ordinary” people doing extraordinary things on behalf of people they don’t necessarily know.

The album opens with ‘A Place Called England’ which suggests that we are now strangers in the country we thought we knew. They take it a bit fast for my taste but I’ve heard Maggie Holland’s original so many times that it feels “right” now. Next is ‘Ghafoor’s Bus’, the story of a grandfather from Teesside who converted a bus into a mobile kitchen and drove to Europe to feed refugees. To him, they weren’t strangers. Switching from accompanied harmony we have ‘Be The Man’ with David Eagle on piano and Michael Hughes on guitar with support from Rachael McShane on cello and a topping of flugelhorn from Jude Abbott.

‘Carriage 12’ tells the story of the terrorist attack on a French train two years ago. We’re back to unaccompanied harmony with a tune inspired by the familiar cadences of country music that suits the song perfectly. The four heroes of the attack could have run and saved themselves but they stood and fought. ‘Cable Street’ is a story familiar to all of us and ‘Dark Water’, the story of two refugees fleeing by swimming five miles of open sea, returns to the accompanied style and features Mary Ann Kennedy on harp.

Sean borrows the idea of pairing a jolly, singalong tune with a lyric that carries a serious message but he doesn’t overuse it. ‘Bob Cooney’s Miracle’ tells how fifty-seven men in the Spanish Civil War were fed from a loaf of bread and a tin of corned beef. OK, it’s not exactly Biblical but the humour makes it. Arguably, the best song is ‘These Hands’, the story of Sybil Phoenix, the first black woman to be awarded the MBE for fostering children in London but who faced racism throughout her life. The song is uplifting and ultimately ends happily. Finally we have ‘The Hartlepool Pedlar’, about a Jewish refugee named Marks who opened a shop in Leeds and took on a partner – and we all know what happened to them.

So The Young’Uns go from strength to strength with an album of great, thought-provoking stories and they probably have another forty years left in them yet.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the THE YOUNG ‘UNS – Strangers link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: www.theyounguns.co.uk

‘A Place Called England’ – live:

The Young’uns announce new album – tour dates to follow

The Young'uns
Photograph by Elly Lucas

Teesside trio The Young’uns have always had the human touch. In the space of little more than a decade – and just three years after giving up their day jobs – they have become one of UK folk music’s hottest properties and best-loved acts.

Stockton Folk Club’s star graduates clinched the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Group’ title two years running (2015 and 2016) and last year saw them spreading the net, taking their unique act and instant audience rapport to Canada, America and Australia.

With their strong songs, spellbinding harmonies and rapid fire humour, they have achieved one of the trickiest balancing acts – an ability to truly ‘make them laugh and make them cry’, while cutting straight to the heart of some of our most topical issues.

On September 29 they will unveil their fourth studio album Strangers – playing their strongest suit to date.  Bold, profound and resonant it showcases the growing talents of Sean Cooney, fast becoming one of folk’s finest songwriters.

Together with Michael Hughes and David Eagle, Cooney has come up with a collection of folk songs for our time, all sensitively arranged by the 30-something trio – looking back at wartime heroes here, offering a news report for the 21st century there, turning the spotlight on injustice and ultimately celebrating the indomitable human spirit.

Setting the scene with a cover of Maggie Holland’s ‘A Place Called England’ (Best Song at 2000 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards) , the remaining songs on the 10-track album all come from the prolific pen of Cooney who manages to combine unflinching, sharply observed but compassionate, heartfelt lyrics.

With its ocean blue cover, Strangers looks at the stories of those that have crossed the seas to British shores and soldiers that have voyaged from here to the warfields of Europe. Paeans for the underdog have been inspired by the courage of Syrian refugees, have-a-go heroes and Gay Rights campaigners which sit seamlessly alongside narrative songs of First World War soldiers, Caribbean and Jewish immigrants, including the founder of one of our best known British High Street stores.

Not forgetting their native North East heroes, The Young’uns inspiration also comes from further afield – the banks of Spain’s River Ebro (Bob Cooney’s ‘Miracle’) and the Thalys train terrorist attack in France. (‘Carriage 12’). There are constant changes of tempo and mood, from the jaunty sing-a-long ‘Ghafoor’s Bus’, celebrating their fellow Teessider who reached out to refugees across Europe to the slow, soaring beauty of ‘Lapwings’ (as performed on BBC-TV’s Springwatch), inspired by a First World War diary entry from a soldier homesick for English fields and skies and the sublime, poetic ‘Dark Water’ where they are backed by Aldeburgh Young Musicians and Radio 3’s Mary Ann Kennedy on harp.

Stand-out song ‘Be The Man’ was inspired by the incredibly moving story of Matthew Ogston and his fiancé Nazim Mahmood – its poignancy elevated by ex Bellowhead musician Rachael McShane on cello and fiddle and Chumbawamba’s Jude Abbott on melancholic flugelhorn. Matthew reacted to Sean’s lyrics saying: “I do not have the right words to even begin to explain how your words have touched my soul and heart”.

Sean’s songs have reached some of the people who inspired them including Syrian refugee Hesham Modamani, now living in Germany and Paris-based American-Frenchman Mark Moogalian, injured in the Thalys train attack, who heard Carriage 12 and wrote to say: “Many thanks for this wonderful song – the only thing that has ever brought tears to my eyes regarding what happened that day.”

These are powerful songs prompted by remarkable stories – making for an ultimately upbeat album full of hope, echoing the lyric from ‘Ghafoor’s Bus’: “There’s a friendly face, a better place and a future for us all”

Striking a chord wherever they go, the emphatic Strangers marks a milestone chapter in The Young’uns brilliant story.

Recorded at The Chairworks in Castleford and Loft Studios in Newcastle, Strangers is produced by Neil Ferguson, released on Hereteu Records label and distributed by Proper Music.

Strangers will be showcased on an extensive UK tour (October 4-27) including a debut at London’s Union Chapel and dates at Sage Gateshead (Hall 1), Glasgow’s Oran Mor and The Sugar Club in Dublin – their first headline gig in Ireland. Support for most dates comes from The Hut People, with singer songwriter Greg Russell opening for the trio in Nottingham and Lincoln.

Artists’ website: http://www.theyounguns.co.uk/

‘Be The Man’ – radio edit:

More names announced for FolkEast 2017

FolkEast 2017

Slovenian cult folk band Terrafolk, not seen in the UK for a decade, are to appear at FolkEast this summer.

Currently their only UK music festival date, the maverick music ensemble will appear on the opening night of the event.

Formed by Danijel Cerne (aka Mystica) in 1999 their uniqueness saw their quick rise to fame, performing at numerous European festivals including Edinburgh Fringe and Glastonbury and clinching a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award in 2003. Offering virtuoso musicianship and offbeat humour the ‘impossible-to-pigeonhole’ line-up draw on Balkan, Gypsy, Russian and Jewish music, captivating audiences with their mix of classical, folk, prog rock, heavy metal and jazz styles.

Once described as “folk rebels with punk attitude” the quartet comprises Danijel Cerne on guitar, An Cerne on flute, Irish whistles and violin, Barja Drbovsek on violin, double bass and ukulele and Botan Cvetreznik on violin.

The three-day festival at the glorious 300-acre Suffolk estate of 16th century Glemham Hall will also feature only the third performance of ‘She Moved Through the Fair: The Legend of Margaret Barry’ after its successful debut at Celtic Connections earlier this year.

Celebrating the centenary of the birth of the feisty Irish street singer it tells Barry’s extraordinary story in music, words and theatre – from leaving home at 16 with nothing but a banjo and bicycle to her discovery by American song collector Alan Lomax.

Written by top music journalist Colin Irwin (also the narrator) and Irish singer Mary McPartlan it tells how she went on to appear at top concert halls in Britain and America, befriending boxers and folk stars at the same time as outraging polite society with her drinking and storytelling but ultimately gaining an indelible reputation as one of folk music’s most unique and enduring voices.

It features the music and singing of McPartlan, award-winning music producer Gerry Diver and fascinating folk artist Lisa Knapp with actors taking the roles of Margaret Barry, Alan Lomax, David Attenborough and others.

Elsewhere the quirkiness that sets FolkEast aside from other music festivals continues. The 2017 festival will see the return of Gardeners’ Cornered – FolkEast’s answer to Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time where festivalgoers can bring their poorly plants and horticulture queries to a panel including ‘Britain’s best known exponent of melodeon and concertina’ and keen allotment holder John Spiers (ex Bellowhead). Spiers will also reprise the outstanding collaboration formed at FolkEast last year with legendary fiddler Peter Knight of Steeleye Span fame as well as performing a solo spot.

Spiers’ erstwhile Bellowhead colleague, percussionist Pete Flood, meanwhile will also be joining the Gardeners’ Cornered panel. And he will be swapping his drum sticks for binoculars as he leads festivalgoers on a nature ramble around the Glemham estate. Post Bellowhead, Pete headed to Manchester Metropolitan University to enrol on a University Certificate in Biological Recording and Species Identification course with a view to fulfilling an ambition of working in conservation. He says: “I’ve had a long term dream of working in conservation and now have thousands of hours of obsessive botanising, moss-gathering and fungus-bothering behind me!”

Continuing the green-fingered theme, a new venture this year will be Eastfolk in Bloom. FolkEast’s Becky Marshall-Potter, who runs the festival with husband John says: “We are asking stall holders to take up the floral baton. There will be an offical judging of the best dressed stall and area on the Friday afternoon. We can’t wait to see what people will come up with – this could be the most colourful FolkEast yet!”

In its sixth year, FolkEast will be packing a punch with an eclectic line up of folk and world music acts including BBC award-winning headliners Jon Boden (ex Bellowhead frontman) and Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys and recently announced Sunday headliner, the dynamic Dhol Foundation. 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nominees Nancy Kerr, Kris Drever and Dorset duo Ninebarrow are all on the programme and of course FolkEast’s irrepressible patrons The Young ‘uns.

The brilliant line-up also includes Martin Simpson, Michael Chapman, Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick, Lau, Simpson, Cutting and Kerr, Damien O’Kane Band , Fay Hield, The Willows, Basque band Korrontzi, Three Cane Whale, Norfolk Broads, Moirai , Irish trad folk band Beoga and top duos Will Pound & Eddy Jay,  India Electric Co and Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage.

Full line-up details here http://www.folkeast.co.uk/18356-2/

Day tickets have now gone on sale – £42 (adult), £36 concessions (full time students, senior citizens) and £30 Youth (12-17 yr olds). Family tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year old are £126.

Weekend tickets are available price £115(adult), £100 concessions and £70 for Youth tickets which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds are £342.

A great FolkEast offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under.

More ticket details here www.folkeast.co.uk/2017-tickets

Peter Knight and John Spiers return to FolkEast

Peter Knight and John Spiers

A unique collaboration between folk legends Peter Knight and John Spiers, seen for the first time at FolkEast 2016, will return to the fast-rising East Anglian festival this August.

The three day festival at the glorious 300-acre Suffolk estate of 16th century Glemham Hall witnessed the debut performance of the pair on the Broad Roots stage on opening night last year – an undisputed highlight of the event.

In its sixth year, FolkEast will be packing a punch with an eclectic line up of folk and world music acts including BBC award-winning headliners Jon Boden and Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys, 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nominees Nancy Kerr, Kris Drever and Dorset duo Ninebarrow and of course FolkEast’s irrepressible patrons The Young’uns.

New names announced include the mighty Martin Simpson, the ace guitarist and songwriter who skilfully melds British and American roots music and has been nominated an astounding 23 times in the Radio 2 Folk Awards as well as top traditional English folk singer Fay Hield, India Electric Co, Ben Savage & Hannah Sanders, popular Cambridge-based band The Willows, Basque folk music band Korrontzi and many more.

Peter Knight and John Spiers live at FolkEast 2016:

TICKETS: Advance weekend tickets are available price £115 (adult), £100 (full time students, senior citizens) and £70 for Youth tickets (12-17 year old) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds are £342. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping is £12 per tent with a £24 charge for campervans and caravans.

Festival website: www.folkeast.co.uk

Folk East 2017 announces first headline acts

Folk East 2017

Growing in stature every year, East Anglia’s fast-rising FolkEast is back for the sixth time this August, proving why it is nothing like other music festivals.

The three day festival will return to the glorious 300-acre Suffolk estate of 16th century Glemham Hall, the home of Major Philip Hope-Cobbold, between August 18-20.

And it will be packing a punch with a plethora of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners and nominees including folk legend Jon Boden and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys.

Jon Boden is one of the outstanding folk performers of his generation – having won 11 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, more than any other artist. This is a chance to see him striking out on his own after the Bellowhead juggernaut shuddered to a halt last year. One of his first solo festival performances, he will headline the main Sunset stage on Friday night in a genre-hopping set that promises to get FolkEast off to a buoyant start.

Winner of the Horizon (Best Emerging Act) award at the 2016 Folk Awards, East Anglian-born Sam Kelly will bring his Lost Boys band and unmistakable voice to the main stage on Saturday night, building on their success last year.

With a third headliner still to be announced, the line-up will also include acclaimed singer guitarist Michael Chapman, esteemed veteran duo Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick and another outstanding duo from the younger generation, Will Pound and Eddy Jay, who made waves with their debut album Ignite last year. Lau, three times winners of Best Group at the Folk Awards, have also been announced. The acclaimed trio comprises Martin Green, Aidan O’Rourke and Kris Drever, whose song ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ is nominated for Best Original Track at the 2017 Folk Awards.

Another duo making their first appearance at FolkEast will be Dorset’s Ninebarrow (Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere), their songwriting skills and perfect harmonies having won them a nomination for the 2017 Folk Awards Horizon Award (Best New Act).

Nominated in the same category is former Folk Singer of the Year Nancy Kerr, for her song ‘Fragile Water’ ; Nancy will be heading to FolkEast in the star-studded trio of Simpson, Cutting and Kerr.

Keeping the Irish flag flying will be the stand out Damien O’Kane Band. Coleraine-born Damien’s exciting modern spin on traditional Irish folk music saw his latest album Areas Of High Traffic nominated for Best Album at the 2016 Folk Awards.

Irish traditional folk band Beoga, also from Ulster, are also Suffolk-bound. The Antrim five piece is collaborating with Ed Sheeran on his upcoming album. They reportedly joined Sheeran at studios in Suffolk last June to record two trad folk tracks, one about Galway and one about Wexford, where Ed has strong family roots.

FolkEast’s irrepressible patrons The Young’uns (Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes), popular winners of the 2016 and 2015 Best Group title at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be headlining the Broad Roots stage and promise another action-packed live podcast.

One of the most singular events on the UK festival calendar, FolkEast was launched five years ago by husband and wife John and Becky Marshall-Potter.

What the artists say about FolkEast

“One of my very favourite festivals”- great location, organisers, atmosphere and sound” – Eliza Carthy

“I love this festival” – Sam Carter

“FolkEast has become one of those amazing, unique festivals” – John Spiers

“FolkEast is something else – very special. A warm feeling just like a family” – O’Hooley & Tidow

Rekindling the ancient Eastfolk moots on the Glemham Hall estate where for three days a year the folk from the East would meet kith and kin at harvest time for “a bit of a do”, this gathering has Suffolk running through it like letters in a stick of rock – from its locally sourced fare in The Imagined Suffolk Food Village to its suppliers, its arts and crafts, its own newspaper The Eastfolk Chronicle and its Suffolk Punch horses.

“Rather like a cross between Cambridge Folk Festival and a very large village fete – it feels like something that has been there since the Middle Ages. The mythical, magical land of the Eastfolk has materialised here in Suffolk’s big sky heartland” Folkcast

The festival offers a refreshingly different line-up across six stages (including St Andrew’s Church, the open air Sunset Stage and the hidden woodland Soapbox Stage), Suffolk food fare, two authentic ‘village’ pubs serving festival ales plus possibly the smallest pub in the UK, The Halfway Inn.

Then there’s the FolkEast Art Arcade, packed dance programme, donkey rides, children’s activities, yoga, poetry, storytelling, the Eastfolk Chronicle Kinedrome (showing folk and local interest films) and tours of Glemham Hall by Major Philip Cobbold.

“Yes it’s a music festival with folk music at its core but be careful how you interpret that – there’s a lot more going on besides music. FolkEast just feels right – in 10 years’ time I reckon you’ll wish you’d have been there from the start.” – Grapevine Magazine

Suffolk performers will include The Broadside Boys, John Ward Band and the duo Shorelark. The Soapbox Stage, curated by local promoter Amy Wragg will introduce up-and-coming musicians and poets from the region.

On board again this year as a media partner will be BBC Radio Suffolk. And this year’s event will see the return of one of the big successes – Instrumental, a festival within a festival. Bigger and better for 2017, it will bring together some of the country’s top instruments makers.

Jon Boden’s erstwhile duo partner and Bellowhead colleague John Spiers is also returning, not just as a performer, but as a green-fingered panellist in the Gardeners’ Question Time event, Gardeners Cornered!

Early Bird tickets for the festival are now sold out. Advance weekend tickets are available price £115(adult), £100 (full time students, senior citizens) and £70 for Youth tickets (12-17 year old) which must be purchased with an adult ticket. Family weekend tickets for two adults and two 12-17 year olds are £342. A great offer sees free admission for children aged 11 and under; camping is £12 per tent with a £24 charge for campervans and caravans.

Located close to the A12 (from where the famous FolkEast decorated tree can be seen), the festival will also be running shuttle buses to the site from Wickham Market station. More performers and a launch event will be announced soon.

Festival website: www.folkeast.co.uk

First names revealed for Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2017

shrewsbury folk festival 2017

The first acts to be signed for Shrewsbury Folk Festival have been revealed as tickets go on sale for the 2017 event.

Loudon Wainwright III, Eric Bibb, former Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden, The Unthanks, Oysterband, The Young’uns, Le Vent Du Nord and Seth Lakeman are among the headliners due to top the bill during the festival next August.

Other acts signed up so far include Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders featuring the Hi Riders Special Soul Review, Jim Moray’s Upcetera Ensemble, Sarah Jarosz, John Kirkpatrick, Skipinnish, Sam Carter, Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, The Wilsons, National Youth Folk Ensemble, The East Pointers, Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys, Coven (Lady Maisery, O’Hooley & Tidow, and Grace Petrie), Mick Ryan and Paul Downes, The Fitzgeralds, Daphne’s Flight, Chris While and Julie Matthews, Maz O’Connor, Alma, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, Greg Russell (solo), Ragged Union, Moirai, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, Jamie Huddlestone, Na-Mara, Wood, Wire and Words, and the Roaring Trowmen.

The event will also host the only 2017 festival appearance of Peter Bellamy’s groundbreaking folk opera The Transports featuring The Young’uns, Faustus, Nancy Kerr, Matthew Crampton, Greg Russell and Rachael McShane.

Dance bands will include Glorystrokes, Jabadaw, Steamchicken, Boldwood, Lasair and Contrasaurus.

Next year’s festival marks 20 years since it began in Bridgnorth in 1997 and it will be the 21st event organised by directors Alan and Sandra Surtees. It will run from August 25 to 28 at the West Mid Showground in Berwick Rd, Shrewsbury.

Festival Director Alan Surtees said: “We are very excited to have secured some great musicians for 2017 at this very early stage and are in detailed negotiations with many others that we will confirm as planning progresses.

“2016 was a vintage year but with an already strong line up and our ongoing commitment to extremely high production values, we’re pretty sure that 2017 will top it!”

Adult weekend ticket prices have been held at 2016 rates. Adult weekend concession tickets are also now tiered. The festival operates a tiered system with four different price levels so people who book early, including those who are eligible for concession tickets, get the best deal. There are also day tickets on sale.

The festival has four music stages, a dance tent and runs more than 100 workshops and dedicated children and youth programmes. There is onsite camping, a craft fair, real ale, wine and cocktail bars, and a food village.

Alan added: “The feedback we had from this year was phenomenal from visitors and artists alike. The BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 presenter Mark Radcliffe described it as ‘a little bit of heaven’ and that sums it up.

“We are anticipating a very high demand for the first tier of tickets. Last year, the cheapest tickets sold out very quickly so our advice is to be prepared!”

In a change to previous years, the site will open from 7am on Friday August 25 for people with camping tickets.

Weekend, camping and day tickets can be booked through  http://shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk/ or direct at  www.gigantic.com/shrewsbury-folk-festival-tickets.