The Young’uns, BBC Radio Two Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe Session

At five minutes to seven I was a little worried that our session on BBC Radio Two’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe wasn’t going to happen, given that the show was due to start in five minutes and I had managed to get stuck in a lift. I stepped into the lift, and the doors closed behind me, but then the lift didn’t move. I searched around for buttons, but couldn’t find any. I started to wonder whether the lift had been the victim of BBC cost cutting, and perhaps it was decided that buttons in a lift was a bit too much of a luxury in these straightened times. It turns out that the real reason there was an absence of buttons inside the lift is because the buttons are all on the outside of the lift, and you are meant to choose your floor before entering. I tried to call Sean and Michael to let them know I was stuck in a none-moving lift, but there was no phone reception. Fortunately, after about five minutes, the lift doors opened and I managed to find the other two.

I really enjoyed the session. It was great to meet Mark Radcliffe, who’s Radio shows I’ve listened to since his afternoon radio one Mark and Lard shows, and he is definitely one of my influences in terms of radio and comedy. In fact, after the session I tried to communicate this to him, although it may have freaked him out a little bit that I seemed to remember more about his Radio One programs than he did. In fact, when I mentioned him playing Radio Pass the Parcel, he had no recollection of this and suggested that I might be confusing him with someone else. I have Googled it and I was correct. It was a regular item on the show for some time. I think it’s quite incredible and a testament to him as a broadcaster that he’s obviously done so much stuff that he can’t even remember certain things he’s done, and that he has fans who have more of a knowledge of some of his broadcasts than he does. Either that or maybe he’s just got a crap memory. I’d like to think though that one day perhaps someone will come up to me an extol the virtues of something I once did on a radio show or podcast that I no longer remember. Perhaps one day someone will excitedly start chatting about James Fagan’s Talking Bollocks, and I’ll look at them blankly and ask whether they’re sure they’re not getting me confused with someone else. It would be great to think that one day I might have achieved so much in my life that even the memory of such quality features as James Fagan’s Talking Bollocks will become a forgotten irrelevance to me. At the moment it’s hard to imagine how I might ever produce anything that will top that kind of broadcasting, but you never know.

The BBC Radio Two Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe session is available here on the Iplayer until next Wednesday. After next wednesday I’ll provide you with a link to download it. Our bit starts seventeen minutes in.

Right then, I’m off to add the final touches to a standup routine I plan to perform in the next couple of months, then I’ll get working on the new Young’uns Podcast, and then to begin work on the next Pick and Mix. Lots of things in the pipeline.

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I’ve Been ON Mark Radcliffe (Not Like That, You Dirty Animals!)

A few minutes of our MainStage performance at last week’s Cambridge Folk Festival were aired on BBC Radio 2′s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe. As well as playing one of our songs they also featured one of our talky bits, where I was imparting a dream I’d had about Mark Radcliffe. It’s available on the IPlayer here. Our bit is twenty minutes in.

I suppose that this means that I can now technically say on my biog page that I’ve had my comedy featured on BBC Radio 2, perhaps this will hoodwink a lazy commissioner into taking an interest, perhaps just assuming that I’ve had my own BBC Radio comedy series. You never know. Well you do, but anyway.

At the end of the show, Mark announced that the Young’uns will be next week’s guests. We’ll be singing three songs and chatting in between. So tune in next wednesday (13 August) from 7pm.

More clips from our Cambridge sets will be on the next Young’uns Podcast, which will hopefully be released soon. I’ve had a couple of computer problems in the last few weeks, plus I’m working on standup ideas, but I’m sure I’ll find some time to sift through hours and hours of recordings of me talking (it’s one of the perks of my job. I bet you’d love a job that consisted of sitting and listening to me talking all day. I’m so lucky.). Anyway, I think I owe it to James Fagan, who’s life must be feeling pretty empty right now, as it’s been awhile since I called him up to chat about testicles. Not to mention how bereft you all must be feeling without your regular dose of testicle talk and cringeworthy puns. I suppose sometimes I get a bit complacent and forget just how much people rely on me to brighten up their otherwise dull and pathetic lives. When I say “dull and pathetic lives,” I’m obviously not referring to you; I meant my other readers, obviously.

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Young’uns Podcast, July 19 2014 (Caustic Bird)

Just when you thought your Saturday night was all planned, a new Young’uns Podcast is released, which changes everything!

The award winning folk performer and qualified medical doctor James Fagan is back to dispense more testicle trivia in James Fagan’s Talking Bollocks. The Young’uns seem to be malfunctioning, possibly due to the heat. We introduce you to another contender for the most eccentric Young’uns fan award. We share a couple of Glastonbury anecdotes, and a story about our time working in a Teesside primary school. David’s phone is attempting to rearrange his life, while Michael Hughes has embarked on uninteresting diet. We play a couple of clips from our late night gig at Otley Folk Festival which gets a little X-Rated. Plus, can you identify the folk song from the food-based lyrical clues as we once again play a round of the Folked Up Folk Song. And, we’ve brought you salad puns, we’ve brought you pig puns, now it’s egg puns!

All that and more will be yours when you press, click, tap, swipe, lick, kick or nuzzle the download link.

Download it here.

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Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter and Mini Me

Hear the audio version of this blog post here


I wanted to find an old document on my computer, but I had no recollection as to what the file was actually called. So I ended up having to trawl through all the files on the drive alphabetically until I eventually located it. It transpired that the file in question began with the letter r, meaning that I had to wade through a lot of files before I came to the one I was looking for.

There were loads of unfinished projects, articles and blogs. I opened quite a few of them out of curiosity.

I read a semi-completed blog post which caused me to smile and feel rather sanctimonious. The blog post relates to Sir Jimmy Savile, and was written just after the airing of the ITV documentary, Exposure: the Other Side of Jimmy Savile.

The blog post was about the time just after University when I did some work for a hospital radio station in Middlesbrough called Southside. I wrote about how I was reprimanded by the management of Southside for a joke I made about Gary Glitter. This joke (which they really created a stink about and essentially led to me deciding to leave the station) in retrospect seems very mild when you consider the fact that Southside – at the same time as rebuking me for my Gary Glitter quip – were proudly declaring on their website that Sir Jimmy Savile was a great friend of the station and a regular contributor.

My little jocular comment, incidentally, came after playing the Gary Glitter song I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am). I merely made the observation that Gary Glitter was pretty rubbish when it came to covering up his pedophilic tendencies, given that he’d released songs with titles that more or less admitted it outright. A casing point being the unfortunately titled What Your Mama Don’t See (Your Mama Don’t Know).

My comment really annoyed the radio station’s management. I was ordered to edit my joke out of the podcast which I duly did. However, they had no qualms about me leaving in their big kiss-ass chat with Jimmy Savile, which was carried out by the very manager who’d forced me to edit out the Gary Glitter quip. So I was reprimanded by the station management for making a mild joke about Gary Glitter because it was apparently inappropriate, while they were hobnobbing with someone who transpired (perhaps not that unexpectedly) to be a major pedophile.

One of the other files I came across on my alphabetical computer trawl was a childhood diary. I was particularly taken and amused by the entry from my nine-year-old self on Friday February 10 1995.

Me and my best friend Paul decided to do a comedy show. We had been practising it for a long time. We decided to do it on a Friday. We told everyone where to meet us, what time and what day. When it was time, we went outside, and no one wanted to listen to it.

I am writing this blog post on the way back from Summer Set where I performed in front of about 1500 people. Sometimes it is easy to become complacent and forget all your achievements and successes. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not as successful or as popular as I thought I would be when I was younger. But in reality, I know that if I could go back in time and tell my dejected nine-year-old self, stood all alone in that school playground, that in twenty years time he’d be performing to audiences of 1500 and greater, and playing at Glastonbury festival, then the nine-year-old me would be astounded and really proud.

To be honest, I think it was for the best that no one turned up for our comedy show, given some of the jokes that I’d seemingly (according to the diary entry) prepared for the event.

There was a parody of the dance hit song from that time, the Rednex, Cotton Eye Joe, which went: “Where did you come from? Pull down your pants. Where did you come from? Do a country dance. Where did you come from? Pick your Bum. Where did you come from? Pull off your thumb.”

I just hope we didn’t incorporate actions into this particular routine.

There was also this joke:

“I was in the bath, but I had to get out to make a phone call. And when I got out I picked up the phone and I was ringing wet.”

Those were seemingly the only jokes I’d deemed good enough to include in my diary, unless there were actually only two jokes in the show. Either way, I think I was let off the hook by no one turning up to the show.

Before I go, I’ll give you one final extract from a diary entry on Thursday 19 January 1995.

“At school we did English, which I be very very good at.”

I’d like to think that this was a deliberate joke. It really should have made the setlist for the comedy show, as it was much better than the jokes that did make it. Unfortunately though, I doubt it was an intentional joke, but simply an inadvertent grammatical error, proving that I wasn’t really that good at English. Still, on a positive note, I know that if I could go back in time to my nine-year-old self and tell him that one day I’d write an amazingly hilarious, insightful and groundbreaking blog, I’d be very happy and proud. And you never know, that day might even come.

New Young’uns Podcast coming at the end of the week.

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Pop Goes The Eagle

Hear the audio version of this blog post with additional content here


As I write this blog post, the Emeli Sandé song Next To Me is playing. I quite like the song, but for me it’s severely marred by the almost constant sound of a man shouting “hey hey hey hey hey hey” while Emeli is singing. The poor girl is pouring out her heart and soul, and there’s some random bloke shouting all over her. Feel free to give the song a listen for yourself and you’ll see what I mean – don’t worry, I’ll wait for you here – otherwise you’ll just have to take my word for it.

“Hey hey hey hey hey,” incongruously repeated over and over again, whizzing around the stereo field, which if anything adds an extra element of distraction and irritation. Emeli’s voice is placed bang in the centre of the stereo mix while this “hey hey hey hey” nonsense is flying around my headphones making me feel dizzy and nauseous.

I’ve never seen her perform the song live and so I don’t know whether she has someone stood on stage with her to shout the heys. Perhaps he positions himself in front of her and runs back and forth across the stage so as to visually produce his frustrating flitting across the stereo field present in the recorded version. Maybe he also performs a series of off-putting gestures in front of Emeli just to distract and irritate the audience even more. I assume not though.

I also assume that the decision to incorporate the “hey hey hey hey” nonsense was not an artistic choice made by Emeli Sandé. The producer was probably told by a label executive that the song was sounding a bit too country and it needed poppifying a bit in order to target the right demographic. So the producer, in his “wisdom”, decided to stand in front of a mic, shout a couple of heys and then loop them over and over again, before buggering off to the pub with a smug feeling of a job well done.

“One day,” he thinks, “someone will recognise my incredible talents. I’ve left my mark on this record, I really have. They’ll make a documentary all about me and my genius one day and they’ll focus an entire ten minutes on my groundbreaking work on the Emeli Sandé song. ‘Are you the man who had the idea to put the hey hey hey heys on the Emeli Sandé song?’ people will ask. And I’ll proudly tell them that not only was I the man to have the idea, but I was also the man who recorded and looped the hey hey heys on the Emeli Sandé song. They’ll probably faint upon hearing this. I should probably get myself on a first aid course. After all, With great power comes great responsibility.”

But then, our amazing music producer hero has a eureka moment. Perhaps it comes to him in a dream like Paul Mccartney’s Yesterday (which probably didn’t really come to him in a dream, but he says it did in interviews because it’s a lot more interesting and mysterious than saying, “oh I was just jamming with the guitar, you know”). But anyway, putting the inception of the Beatles’ Yesterday aside, let’s get back to our music producer, who has just had an incredible brainwave.

He runs to the studio. He is so excited that he’s not even got out of his pyjamas. He’s running down the street in his slippers at 5 in the morning because he can’t wait to try out his idea. If this works then it could change the way we think about music forever, he thinks.

He sprints into the dark deserted studio, switches on the computer, dives into his chair, panting, delirious with anticipation. The computer seems to take an eternity to load, but when it finally does he brings up the Emeli Sandé track. Immediately he sees the wave form created by his “hey hey hey hey.” “It even looks great”, he sighs. He marvels at its beauty. It’s majestic curves and contours. Such a wave form as this he has never seen before.

He solos his hey hey hey heys. He exhales sharply, astounded by its sound. Good God, it sounds even better than he remembered. He takes a moment to bask in it’s ineffable majesty, and then, with his entire body trembling, he begins to act upon his incredible idea.

He reaches for the pan knob and begins to twist. The sound of his hey hey hey heys move from the centre of his headphones towards the left channel. He is almost overcome by ecstasy, but he manages to hold on to his composure enough to carry out the second part of his master plan. He proceeds to twist the knob back into the centre, and then to the right. He continues to turn the knob left then right, left then right, and the sound of the heys match the course of his turn. It sounds even better than he dared to dream.

How does it sound with the rest of the song, he wonders? He unmutes the track and listens in awe to his mastery. He is too absorbed by hubris to realise that it sounds utterly shit.

Chances are that this story is not entirely true. Perhaps Emeli did have a say in the hey hey heys. Maybe she had a friend or relative who was very down and out and in need of some work, and so Emeli had the idea that she could get them on her record and they could earn some money that way. Unfortunately though the person in question lacked any talent whatsoever, but Emeli was too kindhearted to go back on her word, and so gave them the task of shouting hey repeatedly over the track.

I might not feel as irritated by it if I knew that the whole hey hey hey thing was an act of charity. Perhaps other pop stars could follow Emeli’s example and do their bit, maybe teaming up with Help the Homeless to get people off the streets and into the studios, shouting random words and phrases over pop songs. Let’s be honest, in most cases it wouldn’t really do any harm as the majority of mainstream hits are crap anyway, and in some instances it might actually improve the song. Everyone’s a winner.

Another example of a song that features an annoying man sticking his oar in when it’s not needed is in the fugees version of Killing Me Softly. Lauryn Hill is singing “strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song …” and all the while, Wyclef Jean is shouting over her, “one time one time, two times two times.”

At the start of the song there’s also a bit where WyClef, Lauryn and some others are all talking nonsense over each other. At the end of the song the same thing happens, with WyClef gibbering on about something or other while Lauryn begins to reel off a litany of people: “l-Boogie up in here,” she declares, while WyClef is chuntering on about what he had for tea or something equally mundane. If they both want to speak then why don’t they take it in turns? In fact, Lauryn is evidently distracted by WyClef talking while she’s talking because after she’s just said, “L-Boogie up in here,” she repeats it again, “I said, L-Boogie up in here”, as if she was concerned that we might not have heard her the first time Don’t worry Lauryn, I heard what you said both times, and it was just as nonsensical the second time as it was the first time. Or maybe the real reason Lauryn repeated herself was to please WyClef Jean, who’s seemingly taken by the notion of saying things “two times, two times,” including the phrase “two times.”

“L-Boogie up in here,” she drones, “I said, L-Boogie up in here, WyClef up in here,” as if we needed telling.

She continues to shout the names of people and inform us that they’re all “up in here,” as WyClef continues to blabber on, before someone in the studio eventually has the bright idea to fade them all out. I’d like to think that the person in the studio didn’t tell them he’d already faded them out and stopped recording and they just went on talking nonsense over each other for another hour. Frankly, it’s what they deserve, the twits.

There’s another song that I can’t recall, but I remember that all the way through the song the female singer keeps being interrupted by a man shouting “say what? say what?” She then repeated what she’d just sang and the man again interrupted shouting “say what? say what?” I remember thinking that if the man stopped shouting “say what? say what?” over her singing then he might be in a better position to hear her, and therefore not need to keep asking what she’s just said, saving us all a lot of aggravation.

On a similar vane, I remember listening to the Radio One rap show with Tim Westwood once and finding it ridiculous how Timothy and his homeboys would all shout unfathomable drivel down a distorted microphone while the sounds of horns, bombs, gun shots, rap music and record scratches masked whatever nonsense they were shouting. But what I found amusing was how they would periodically throw in the phrase “you know what I’m saying.” Of course we have no idea what you’re saying, and I doubt whether you yourselves really have any idea about what the hell you’re saying either. Although I was surprised to find that almost universally Westwood would answer with an enthusiastic “yeah man,” or, “for real.”

I was fascinated to uncover the deep and mystical words of wisdom that I was missing out on. But no matter how hard I strained to hear above the bombs, the horns, the gun shots, blurring beats and the record scratches, I couldn’t decipher the garbled phrases; although they were shouting it in a way that suggested that what they were saying was really vitally important, which frustrated me further. In actuality, it was probably just boring small talk about the weather or something.

Incidentally, the reason Emeli Sandé was playing is because I am in the process of working on ideas for a DJ set for someone’s wedding in August.
This means I’ll have a lot of new material to use for a third Pick and Mix which I’ll probably release in September. Obviously this one will be a lot more poppy than the previous too – I’m not sure the happy couple would remain happy if I started blasting them with Flanders & Swann mixed with the Chemical Brothers or Sinéad O’conor with Aphex Twin – but there’ll still be some interesting and surprising mixes and unlikely song combinations for you.

So, given the poppy nature of the next Pick and Mix, I thought of calling the mix Pop Goes the Eagle, because obviously that would be a hilarious pun. So Pop Goes the Eagle will be with you in September, unless you’re an invite at the wedding or a member of the bar staff or a gate crasher, in which case you’ll hear it in August. In fact, I’m deliberately not mentioning who’s wedding it is because I know how excited you all are about the new Pick and Mix and you’ll probably all cause a massive health and safety risk by trying to gate crash the wedding so you can hear it before September.

Finally, our Glastonbury gig went really well, and we’ll be sharing ourGlastonbry experience with you on the next Young’uns Podcast which should be out before the end of July.

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Young’uns Podcast, June 13 2014 (James Fagan’s Talking Bollocks)

James Fagan returns once more to the Young’uns Podcast, joining us on the phone to talk testicles. It’s the first in our new series in which the award winning folk musician and qualified medical doctor dispenses testicle-based trivia. Plus we’ve got clips from our recent appearance at North Yorkshire’s Bamfest, which takes the prize for the festival with the drunkest and most raucous audience. And once again, can you identify the folked-up folk song from the food-based lyrical clues?
Download it here.

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Young’uns Podcast, June 1 2014 (National Pervert Day

This week, we introduce you to some of the interesting people we’ve been staying with on our travels, including a radical vicar, a lady who keeps roadkill in a deep-chest freezer, a sculptor and a palm reader. And it is thanks to the palm reader that you can now discover the true identity of David Eagle, Michael Hughes and Sean Cooney. What dark secrets are housed in our palms? and what does our future hold? At our recent gig in North Boarhunt, the audience seemed rather keen for Michael to undress. Will he give in to public pressure? Find out why David has a bone to pick with Eliza Carthy. It’s the return of Folk in Focus, the folk news programme that brings you the stories that other folk programmes and publications just don’t have the balls or the journalistic nous to tackle; this week James Fagan is under the spotlight. And it’s also the return of the Folked-Up Folk Song; can you identify the folk song from the food-based lyrical clues? Music comes from our Polish friends Brasy, taken from their recent concert at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Download the podcast here

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Young’uns Podcast, May 06 2014, with the Hut People and Mic and Susie Darling

photo of Mic and Susie Darling and the Hut People

Our final Hartlepool Headland Folk Festival podcast features music and conversation with the world folk duo the Hut People, and Mic and Susie Darling who write and sing songs about their lives as traveling people. Step this way for budgie and biscuit based banter, exotic percussion instruments, outstanding accordion playing, harrowing and heartwarming songs and stories.

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Young’uns Podcast, April 28 2014, with Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar

Photo of Greg Russell gazing longingly into Ciaran Algar's eyes

This week we bring you music and conversation with 2014 BBC Folk Award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, recorded as part of the Young’uns’ Hartlepool Headland Festival. We chat about how they met, their repertoire, songwriting, weird gigs, philosophers and biscuits.

Download here

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