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Gloucester trio Way Out West on their unique take on pop music

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Thursday, 30th January 2020, 09:00

Way Out West at the Gloucester Tall Ships Festival. Picture: Tina Dorner Way Out West at the Gloucester Tall Ships Festival. Picture: Tina Dorner

Way Out West are a folk group made up of Pat Roberts, Kathryn Wheeler and Jon Hoyle.

First getting together as a band in 2006, the trio specialise in covering well-known pop songs in their unique, folk-driven way.

“It’s pop but not as you know it,” said Kathryn, who plays accordion and fiddle.

“It’s not what you expect if you just see us setting up! I love the contrast between expectations and reality.”

Kathryn and Pat met in the early noughties when working together, and Pat says their love of music gave them an instant connection.

She said: “My ‘accordion-dar’ told me she was a squeezebox player too.

“The following day we were playing Apple Day at the Folk Museum together thinking, ‘whoa, this works’.”

The pair formed the trio ‘Giddy Aunt’ with their mutual friend Richard, and were also part of a blues band, where they met Jon.

“Rehearsals were slow,” said Pat, who has lived in Gloucester since 1984, “so we amused ourselves doing pop tunes.”

When Richard moved away for work, Jon – who plays guitar and ukulele amongst others – joined the trio, and Way Out West was born.

Pat describes them as “a covers band with all the wrong instruments”, and Kathryn says that reworking popular songs to fit their unique style is great fun.

She continued: “The way I see it we ‘play with’ music like kids in a sandbox. Sometimes we just read the lyrics and you can imagine the kind of character who is singing it and the style.

“It either comes from something in the music – like a yodel-like interval in Adele’s ‘Send My Love To Your New Lover’ that we then exaggerate so the whole song sounds a bit ‘Austrian Tyrol’.

“Or the fact you can literally sing ‘Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me’ to ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ from Mary Poppins.

“I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they work out what song we are doing. I love it when burly blokes are dancing then realise we are doing ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua!”

And Pat agrees that getting on stage and performing their quirky covers is the best bit of being in Way Out West.

She added: “We love it when audiences suddenly realise what they’re hearing, but the best bit is when people dance – moving someone’s feet with your fingers feels like magic.”

Way Out West will be performing as part of the Gloucester Folk Trail, which runs from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd February.

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