Home Service, the celebrated band offering English folk with brass, heads for a date at Horsham’s Capitol on June 12.
John Tams said: “Really it’s a meeting place for friends that have been playing with me for more than 40 years.
“We don’t do many concerts. We are very selective where we go, but every time we resurface, it’s like meeting up with old friends. We are like a club!
“We were playing together under the name Home Service more than 25 years ago. It started from work at the National Theatre. We were working with brass players on Lark Rise to Candleford and the Mystery Plays. It was a collective decision to take on the name Home Service as something that keeps our identity as British, home service, the light programme. It sounded very appropriate.
“It’s an eight-piece band with the rock section on one side of the stage and the brass section on the other side. The brass – reeds, trumpet, trombone – all double with different instruments. There is an element to that side that is classical, and the other element is rock. But everything basically derives from folk. I think Louis Armstrong said ‘It’s all folk music.’ It all belongs to the people.
“The great thing about traditional music is that as soon as you sing it, it comes alive. It is not like something you are looking at in a museum. It lives again, and it always attracts me because it is telling somebody’s truth. A lot of pop music is commercially driven, but traditional music is driven by people’s histories. It is the people’s music. It has relevance.
“There is a political edge to the band as well. We don’t want to do the mystical, mythical milk-white steeds and knights-type music. We tend to do the industrial songs that say something. There is a whole social history going on there. They are meant to make affirmations or reaffirmations for people that needed a voice. There are even songs from the English Civil War. There is a lot of grit. What we are trying to cover has a lot of grit in it. It can be lyrical in a pastoral sense, but it is also quite grumpy.”
Which doesn’t of course make Home Service a grumpy band. Far from it.
“We are there to entertainment. That’s our priority.”
And with traditional music, there have got plenty to draw on: “I am a reliquary of songs on my shelves and in my head! There are songs for every moment of life. It is a rich vein of little gems. There are some that are fractured and need polishing, but it is my job to retrieve and recover. With the songs that are fragmented, you add to them, you put them back together again.”
Tickets on 01403 750220 or www.thecapitolhorsham.com.
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