Ambleside band, The Elderly Brothers, are both phenomenon and phenomenal, with rockstar popularity despite a collective age of 342 years, writes JANE RENOUF.

Mainstream pop culture may celebrate youth, but the amazing five-strong line-up champions the sixties and seventies - which refers not so much to that era of pop as to the band’s age bracket; they're still attracting capacity audiences…and not a performer under 65.

Having spent younger years as individuals playing informally with rhythm and blues and folk bands, fate brought them together more than 20 years ago to form The Elderly Brothers, inspired by the late Paul Shingler, the band’s accomplished guitarist. Former band members include vocalist Bob Theobald and drummer Derek Hook, who created Zeffirellis cinema and pizzeria which provides the band with a perfect stage for ‘at home’ gigs. The space was expanded recently, but the band filled it easily, with standing room only. Fans know to come early just to get a seat.

The line-up now consists of band founder, lead singer and bass guitarist Tony Rothwell, retired architect Nigel Hutchinson on rhythm electric and acoustic guitar, Martin Tomlinson, artist by day and virtuoso keyboard player by night, plus multi-talented Tony Farren on harmonica, guitar, vocals and occasional mandolin, and Ambleside architect Will Sutherland on electric drums. “Rehearsals are a riot, we really do have fun. We’re a very democratic band - but I’m in charge!” Tony says jokingly. Characteristically modest and self-deprecating, the band’s musicianship is truly masterful.

The Elderlies play about eight concerts a year, including Bowness Bay Blues Weekend. Having started originally with songs from the Everly Brothers era, their music nowadays also reflects more contemporary influences. “We never take ourselves too seriously”, they say. “We’re free spirits - unemployed, or unemployable, and someone is always away on holiday which limits us somewhat.” Increasingly younger fans are joining pensioner audiences to rock Zeffs to the rafters, though the lady in the front row who was sick on Nigel Hutchinson’s shoes one night was probably taking audience participation a little far.

“In the early years we used to make loads of mistakes but the secret is to get the audience to laugh with us, not at us. We’re too old to be on ego trips, but the band is improving - and it’s not many things that improve at 70. After all, we don’t want to peak too soon. We like to keep a bit of tension, we don’t want to slip into something that’s too easy. It might be nice to end the evening relaxing with a drink, but then we’d probably be up all night.”

The Elderly Brothers will play at Zeffirellis Jazz Bar at 8.30pm, Wednesday and Thursday, November 27 and 28.

Entry is free with a collection for charity. For further information visit Facebook @elderlybrotherslakes.