UK folk music stars The Young’uns came together 20 years ago when teenage friends Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle literally stumbled over folk music in 2003 in the back room of The Sun Inn in their native Stockton-on-Tees, never knowing that such music existed. They became regulars and, as the youngest people in the room, were dubbed ‘The Young’uns’ – a name that, for better or worse, has stuck.
Building and honing their act, Stockton Folk Club’s star graduates went on to clinch the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Group’ title two years running in 2015 and 2016, toured their unique act in the USA, Canada and Australia, played Glastonbury Festival, as well as scooping the coveted Best Album award with the hugely impressive Strangers at the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. More recently they have touched audiences on both sides of the Atlantic via their acclaimed stage show The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff, based on the life of a Teesside local hero.
On April 7th, The Young’uns will unveil their latest studio album ‘Tiny Notes ‘. Bold, profound and resonant it showcases the ever-growing talents of ‘premier league songwriter’ Sean Cooney who says writing songs about real, ordinary heroes has become ‘a personal passion’. Together with Hughes and Eagle, he has come up with a collection of folk songs for our time, which takes listeners on a journey from London to Lockerbie, Ireland to Syria, Florida to North Yorkshire. All sensitively arranged by the 30-something trio, the songs recall victims of war and terrorism and heroes of the hour, turning the spotlight on injustice and ultimately celebrating love, tolerance and the indomitable human spirit.
The album will be showcased via an extensive UK & Irish tour which plays Cardiff’s Acapela on May 31. Here, Andy Howells discovers Sean Cooney’s music inspirations.
What was the first song that made an impact on you?
The One and Only by Chesney Hawkes. Memories as a five-year-old jumping around feeling free.
What was the first single /download you bought?
Saviours Day EP – Cliff Richard. Still like it. Nice and folkie when the pan-pipes come in.
What was the first album you owned?
Travis – The Man Who. First owned it as a 14-year-old – great songs.
What’s your constant go to track?
The Stars Over Kinvara by Declan O’Rourke – so gorgeous. Captures so much of life, love, family and Ireland.
What’s your constant go to album?
Still As Your Sleeping by Karine Polwart and Dave Milligan. Classy and beautiful, just piano and voice.
Who’s your latest music discovery?
Nick Hart. Great voice, gorgeous guitar. Storytelling songs that you can really lose yourself in.
What’s your own track that best defines you as an artist?
Be the Man – because of the impact I know it’s had on people’s lives. Some people have told me it helped them come out or that it helped them understand their kid’s sexuality. It’s that impact on people’s lives that I aspire to in every song I write.