The official home of Stephen Young & The Union

No Depression Magazine have called them "a manna from music heaven". The renowned Daytrotter Sessions in Davenport, Iowa hosted Young at their studios during his last US tour while Ireland's Today FM made them Single of the Week in 2016 and in the same month Seattle's KEXP followed suit, spinning the band drive-time airplay as Stephen Young & The Union launched Eagle Fort Rumble to critical acclaim both in Ireland and the US. They are an MRU award-winning band in the Alt-Country category and have appeared on RTE Television's The View. Now, the band are in the studio putting the finishing touches to their new record.




No Depression, 2015

By Frank Gutch Jr

Had a friend played Stephen Young & The Union's new album for me without telling me who they were, I would have sworn they were from Poughkeepsie or Syracuse or Los Angeles but damned if they aren't Irish. There was a time you could tell, you know? At one time Brits just could not play country and Americans could not nail down trad folk, but over the years those barriers have broken down. Young & The Union's Eagle Fort Rumble prove it. Irish? No way! And yet, yes, they are. Irish with the soul of what used to be American and is now evidently the world's. No complaint. Just fact. I mean, have you ever heard a band from Ireland play like this?

Didn't think so. Not that bands in Ireland couldn't. Just that I haven't heard any. Until now.   

To say I'm impressed is an understatement. The last time I was blindsided like this was when I first heard The Barr Brothers' “Half Crazy” on radio and had to keep repeating “Barr Brothers. Barr Brothers.” until I got to the Music Millennium in Portland to see if they had the album. (They didn't. Two weeks later, though, when it was released, I swung by to pick it up. God, but I love record stores!) This time, the music came through the mail and if I hadn't been a huge supporter of the United States Postal Service before, I would be now. Because Eagle Fort Rumble is manna from music heaven. To my ears, anyway.

They are calling the music Americana and it doesn't bother me all that much except that I have yet to lock down exactly what is Americana. Folk with a twist? Rock with jazz undertones? Hell if I know. If it's this good, I don't really care, anyway. I'm in it for the music.

Eagle Fort Rumble is the kind of album I hope for but too seldom get these days. While I am surrounded by outstanding music, maybe one in a hundred of the albums which cross my desk I find inspiring. Color me inspired.  

Time to jump back in 

A little over a year ago myself and the band decided that we would bring our decade-long project that was Stephen Young & The Union to an end.

It was a big decision at the time. Still, one that felt natural and right. We had become burned out from the mammoth recording and touring we had gone through for our second album and we, like Apple Mac's, crashed, just once too often.

All the while, however, we had recorded a third album. It was an exciting, live, in-the-room record that had not been finished. Recorded, but not mixed or mastered. We walked away from it and it sat on Gary Duncan's hard drive for 18 months. Gary called me and said 'hey bud, what's happening with this album?' I said 'I think we're done...'. 'Ah fuck, seriously?'. 'Yeah...'

See, all six of us have jobs and mortgages, some of us have kids and some of us have more than one. So, trying to finish an album, rehearse, gig, tour etc, all felt like the most far-fetched concept, if not just plainly outrageous.

Then Mr Duncan called again about a year later and said 'hey man, what's happening with this album?'. I said 'Same story, dude. I think it's done.' He said: ' Alright then, So it's safe to bin it?' There was a long pause and before the words came out, my inner voice had already screamed: 'No! Don't fucking bin it.' 'Yeah. Didn't think so,' he said.

On a warm July morning I took the N80 up to Red Lake Studios in Portlaoise and I sat in with Gary for a few days, stayed up at the shack, drinking wine, talking shit, and by the end of the week my third album was mixed.

I loved it. I fucking loved the way it sounded: live, bouncy, trashy, slightly lagging, slightly speeding up, like outtakes most bands don't use. But to me there was a warm, tapey, analogue feel like the old albums I love, like Brian Jonestown Massacre and Willie Nelson all rolled up into this butt ugly girlfriend or boyfriend who's just too much of a damn sweetheart beneath it all not to love. Cos when you take away all the make-up and the production and glossy lipstick who knows if you'd still love what you think you love?

But that's not for me say. Love what you love.


Time to bow out 

"If you got to go, well yes alright, but if you got to go, go now, or else you gotta stay all night" - Bob Dylan. "It's been real and it's been fun and it's been real fun" - Miss Penny Lane (Almost Famous). 
Time for The Union to go the way of the dodo, I'm afraid dudes. The time feels right. Even though there are 15 songs sitting on a hard drive in a studio just outside Portlaoise that will never see the light of day, only some of them are the best we've ever written and recorded (no shitting ya).
Recently, there had been offers from Nashville and just outside Nashville, and South Carolina, and we've been so flattered, but trying to put 6 of us in the same room on a regular basis has become tougher and tougher. As a band we've had almost 10 great years, two studio albums, two EPs, played great venues and festivals, been on TV, radio, in the papers and it's been amazing. But the time is right to hang up the guitars and the black t-shirts. 
Well maybe not the black t-shirts... 
We'd like to thank our friends Stevie Rogers, Steve Deasy, Kenny Hollywood, Ciaran Lane - for their contributions in the years gone by - and all the others who have contributed to this band over the years. We've loved every minute of it. 
These words more or less sum it all up for me: 
"Me and my friends took a boat and we left; breaking the bow and the backs of our necks, watching the Champ in our minds - the blind leading the blind". 
The website will stay live for a while and I'll upload all our material there for you to download for free - enjoy & keep finding new music. So peace out & and remember to do as Mark Twain wrote - "why not go on a limb; that's where all the fruit is." 


Slow train coming 

There's a blizzard kicking up outside and it's nice to be by the fire and update you on some happenings here at Union HQ.

We've been back rehearsing again, knocking the cobwebs off and planning some cool stuff for 2018. We have an album to finish, some gigs to book and some cool things in pipeline that hopefully we'll be able to talk about soon.

Since we'd taken a bit of break from last summer we were rusty as hell at our last rehearsal, but by the end we were getting back into the swing of things; luckily with this line up it never does take us too long to find our groove and get tight. We went into our last recording session on the album with four songs on the slate, and not one of them pre-rehearsed. A couple of run-throughs in the live room and we were good, and most songs went down fully within about four or five takes. 

I've found the recording experience on this album the most enjoyable so far by a long way. Mixing is always a pain. It's great when it's great and the mix comes off good early on, but usually it's a bit like a sculpture, you have to chip away at the thing until it's right and even then you stand back and look at it and think "is it though?"

It's kinda the same this time around too, and that's where we're at with it. Chipping away. 

We have some really unbelievable news... potentially, hopefully and all that. But I can't share it with you just yet. As much I would love to. But there'll be a time for that.

In the meantime, we'll be getting back in shape and announcing some things soon. 

Keep well, and if you're facing down the Beast from the East, keep warm.



Country Music & Us 

I was doing the unthinkable ego trip last night updating the website - googling the band extensively.

Yikes. Some doozies out there. One in particular gave me a good chuckle.

Man they weren't wrong about the live shows - back then we used to gargle half a bar before a gig. But I love the not so

subtle pop at Country music, and I remember the days (circa 2011) when it was far from cool to play anything resembling the sort. On a side note; whatever happened to Mona? Answers on an MP3 to

Campfire vibes 

Only two weeks to the new Star Wars!!!

I have to admit the trailers were a tad disappointing but my Hope is that they were so because the makers couldn't give too much away...

Meanwhile, I have this video... a little out-take from recording on some old reel to reel quarter inch tape we took in the summer I hope you dig it.

Stephen Young & The Union - Sunshine In Life

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