From left, Lily Wolter, Becky Redford, Jack Sowton and Jack Wolter are U.K. indie pop act Penelope Isles. (Courtesy Abbey Raymonde)

Penelope Isles a fun brother-sister act

Lily and Jack Wolter grew up in unique Isle of Man

Lily Wolter’s guitarist brother Jack — six years her senior — eventually dragged her into a career in music, playing bass in the delightful, marshmallow-fluffy English quartet Penelope Isles. But her interest in show business started long before that. Growing up on the secluded Isle of Man, attending a fancy school with a dinky graduating class of 40, she says, “I portrayed the class clown, and I didn’t have much choice. I’d just tell a simple knock-knock joke and everybody would crack up. But it was a very posh school, and they loved showing off, so they really pushed the music out of me. I was always being told, ‘You are an entertainer!’” First, she tried saxophone, then concert harp, then finally bass under Jack’s tutelage. Their “Until the Tide Creeps In” debut is unlike anything you’ll hear this year.

You started on sax? I just saw the hilarious new Rebel Wilson film “Isn’t It Romantic,” and inexplicably Liam Hemsworth is tossed a saxophone in the closing Madonna number and he starts wailing on it.

I love that movie! And I truly love Rebel Wilson and I relate to her so much. But it was obvious that she just had this crazy idea and went with it.

But you can’t discount the Isle of Man. It’s a really unique place, where residents don’t even lock their doors.

That is so true. I mean, I locked mine because I had lived in England. But all my family and friends leave their doors unlocked. I have one relative who even leaves her whole house unlocked when she goes on holiday.

And then there’s the indigenous species of tailless feline there, the Manx.

Yeah I had a Manx cat called Minx, and she was lovely. She was very frail and very scared all the time. But she had no tail.

Then there’s that absolutely insane annual motorcycle race around the island, the TT (Tourist Trophy).

I have to say, if you ever get the chance to go see the TT, you must go and see it. Growing up there, I’m now considered into bikes. But it is incredible. And you get two weeks off school and the whole island basically goes into lockdown mode, and most people take a week off work and everyone just watches the races and gets pissed.

There had to be a point where Jack finally noticed his kid sister was musical.

That’s exactly what it was like. When I was 10, the last thing my 16-year-old brother wanted to do was spend time playing guitar with me. But when he came back from university, he was really into the DIY tracks I was making on this battered old organ. And now we both have separate solo projects.


Penelope Isles

Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F.

When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1

Tickets: $15

Contact: (415) 626-4455,

Pop Music

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