The Young’uns road trip

The Young'uns
Photograph by Elly Lucas

Teesside trio The Young’uns have embarked on a road trip to meet four men who have inspired songs on their acclaimed new album Strangers (out Sept 29) – two in the UK, one in France and one in Germany.

First Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle were in their native Teesside to meet Middlesbrough man Ghafoor Hussain (right).

Songwriter Sean Cooney was touched by the Teesside grandfather’s humanitarian work in 2015 when he converted a bus into a travelling kitchen to feed migrants and refugees across Europe. At one point, in the refugee camp in Dunkirk, he was serving 3,000 hot meals and 10,000 cups of tea a day. The catchy resulting song, ‘Ghafoor’s Bus’ has proved popular both here and in Canada, with its optimistic message.

Today (20th) they fly to Paris where they will meet Mark Moogalian, the 53 year-old French-American hero of the Thalys train attack, shot when he tried to tackle the gunman. Sean wrote the song ‘Carriage 12’ about the incident and the incredible bravery of Moogalian and others who confronted the attacker. Moogalian heard the song and wrote to The Young’uns to say: “Many thanks for this wonderful song – the only thing that has ever brought tears to my eyes regarding what happened that day”.

From Paris the trio will travel to Berlin tomorrow (21st) to make the acquaintance of Hesham Modamani, who fled Syria following the disappearance of his brother and took the drastic decision to swim the Aegean Sea with fellow Syrian Feras Abukhalif. Sean wrote the beautiful song ‘Dark Water’ about this.

Hesham is now studying in Germany and contacted Sean saying “I am honoured that my journey made words for your song.”

Back in London on Wednesday (23rd) they will finally meet Matthew Ogston whose affecting story inspired the song ‘Be The Man’.  Matthew founded the Naz and Matt Foundation to tackle religious and cultural homophobia following the tragic death of his fiancé Nazim Mahmood. www.nazandmattfoundation.org

‘Be The Man’ is the first single taken from the album.

The Young’uns will be writing an on-the-road blog and making a podcast of the road trip.

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, human touch 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, in a collection of folk songs for our time.

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

‘Be The Man’ – radio edit:

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: