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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‘Be The Man’ – radio edit: