If you thought Home Service had gone a bit quiet of late here’s some good news - the band is back with some great gigs in the diary and the major news is that John Tams has re-enlisted alongside John Kirkpatrick as joint front man and lead vocalist. This is very exciting for us all and furthermore there are rumours of new material, which could mean we might see the boys back in the studio before long. A series of EPs is a possibility this time.
Main thing is, just don’t miss this rare opportunity to be blown away by the sheer might, grace and grandeur of the one and only Home Service when they come your way.
Because of the terrible news that Rory can no longer play bass for us, we are enlisting the talents of another old friend, Rob Levy to supply the low notes. Welcome to the fold Rob!
We have very sad news regarding dear and wonderful bass player, Rory McFarlane. Rory has had to stand down from the position of bassist owing to a currently incurable neurological illness, which renders it impossible for him to play. This is such a blow after most of a lifetime as a musician and our deepest sympathies are with Rory. We shall miss him terrnbly.
We are very much looking forward to appearing again on the end of the Cromer pier, at the invitation of the ever-enthusiastic Scottie. As usual he has put together a blistering line-up and we're headlining Friday 11th May. Pack up your buckets and spades and join us on the beautiful East Coast!
We are hoping to have a professional video made of this gig for commercial release as a DVD, so watch this space for further news.
After this in June the band plays a series of three gigs in the South - promise we'll be up North again soon! Check the Gigs page for more info.
After the very sad death of our dear Roger Williams, we now have a new trombone player, Liam Kirkman, maintaining the Grand Home Service brass tradition.
John Tams has announced his retirement from Home Service - we thank him mightily for all his work with us and wish him well!
Nevertheless we are extremely excited to announce that we have now regrouped with three new members and a revamped brass section.
Replacing Tam would never be an easy task, but with John K joining our ranks we have found exactly the calibre of character and musicianship required. John will take over the lead vocal role and add his inimitably masterful accordion, and now that we have John K on board, Steve King will be not only be gracing the keyboard, but freed to stand tall amongst the brass section and exhibit his skills on tenor saxophone, helping to create an even more dynamic sound.
Furthermore, and very sadly, we have very recently had to free the much loved Roger Williams from the Trombone chair. Roger's health has steadily deteriorated over the last few years to the extent now that he has had to resign. The good news is that we managed to capture some of his finest ever playing throughout the new album recording. For a short spell Nigel Barr took his place, but Liam Kirkman will be appearing from now on in Roger's stead.
Over the past 5 months we have been working extremely hard on the new album which is now all complete, mixed and mastered.
We have worked as a team in a very productive way - there are 8 writers involved - John Kirkpatrick, Derek Pearce, Graeme Taylor, Andy Findon, Benji Kirkpatrick, Issy Emeney, Henry Purcell and John Bull.
Arrangements have been written by Andy, Graeme and John, and Graeme has produced the project in his home studio, Morden Shoals.
We are all immensely proud of the new album and truly hope that you will take it to your hearts. Thank you for your support in these exciting times!
Well, the new era for Home Service has taken a while to develop, but develop it most certainly has, and in a direction which we least expected. We had official word from John Tams earlier this year that he felt the time was right for him to retire from the band, and gave me a public statement which I can now share with you here:
"A combination of circumstance not least and most recently an 8-part television drama series has drawn me reluctantly to leave Home Service effective from September 13th 2015. This decision, whilst difficult, aims to avoid compromising the future for Home Service at a time when my restricted diary would make forward planning impossible. There are no issues beyond this and I leave my friends and colleagues, some of almost 40 years standing, in the certain knowledge that they are “The best damn band in the land.” I send them my fondest thoughts and support for their continuing success. I’ll miss you lads!"
The rest of us were nevertheless determined to carry this amazing and mighty band forward after what admittedly was a severe blow to the bows, made even harder by Jon Davie's departure from the country to settle in Thailand, where he has owned a house for some years.
It inevitably took a while to find the right people to fill these two extremely talented men's shoes, but we are now lucky enough to have secured the commitment of the great and widely renowned John Kirkpatrick as our new lead vocalist and the equally wonderful Rory McFarlane on bass. John K. is well known for his massive wealth of work on the folk scene and has also played with Graeme and Greg in his own band back in the 90s, as well as alongside Rory in the Richard Thompson band. There's a lot of cross-fertilisation going on here and we are all very excited at the prospect before us, having already recorded three tracks of a new album at Graeme's studio, Morden Shoals. As soon as some preliminary mixes are ready I'll post them up here for a taster!
The final piece in the jigsaw has been the enlisting of Tristan Bryant as our agent at Dotted Line, to whom we also extend the warmest of welcomes on board with us.
The band has been working intensely on new material - some original John Tams songs, some even more fantastical arrangements of Percy Grainger - and a major new work based on a well-known English ballad, which could form the basis of a standalone concert performance. To follow up the previous repertoire with equally strong yet distinctively different material is no mean feat, but the way things are going, it looks like we are going to prove more than equal to the challenge.
We are marching boldly into a whole new era for Home Service for 2015...
BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012
IT"S OFFICIAL! HOME SERVICE ARE THE BEST LIVE ACT! 25 YEARS ON!
On top of having the best summer of our lives playing to thousands of old friends and new, we were flattered to be nominated for these prestigious awards. Now we have won, the wind is really in our sails and we have the strength and power to move forward.
Home Service have unfinished business – to re-emerge with such support is both touching and telling. The spirit we attempt to create in performance has been equally matched by the positive energy thrown generously at the bandstand.
Thank you all for welcoming our return so warmly – we are having the best of times.
This is a shared honour – we try and do it for you - you definitely do it for us - and we thank you most warmly.
The previous summer’s grueling schedule had however, taken its toll on Tams’ voice and a couple of days after the Awards Ceremony, upon examination by a specialist, it was revealed that nodules had developed around his vocal chords. This incredibly untimely discovery put an abrupt halt on attempts to organise the tour which would have justified their new title of Best Live Act.
However, in order to honour as many pre-booked dates as possible, the band enlisted the services of the talented Joe Topping, who sang lead vocals in place of John Tams on half a dozen gigs, while Tams, unable to sing for 5 months, inserted his usual witty and personal comments between the songs, working together to create a very successful show.
The good news is that Tams has now undergone a successful operation and made a full recovery and the gigs are rolling in, both at home and abroad, for 2013. On top of this, anxious not to become their own greatest tribute band, the boys are already writing and recording new material for a brand new CD. Watch out - Home Service is once again truly back in business.
The reunion of this classic band came about after the discovery, in early 2011, of some previously unheard live recordings made by their faithful sound engineer on a couple of cassette tapes that had languished in the back of his wardrobe for the last 25 years. These recordings, made at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1986, exhibited a power and commitment that was never fully captured in the studio, so a live album release immediately became inevitable.
Home Service was originally formed from the creative nucleus of the Albion Band line-up that produced the classic “Rise Up Like the Sun” album, singer-songwriter John Tams feeling the need to explore more contemporary themes in his writing and its musical interpretation. Songs like “Walk my Way”, “Alright Jack” and ”Sorrow” were anthemic observations on the unfairness of Thatcherite Britain and its social inequalities. The crushing irony is that they sound as potent now as they did then, thereby making this band’s work as relevant as ever.