They are playing our story

6th February 2004 at 00:00
Pupils at a Bradford primary got a sense of dej... vu when they heard the plot of a Hollywood film. Adi Bloom reports

In the history of blues music, there have been many miseries endured by old men playing harmonicas.

Sometimes he is blue because his woman done left him ... sometimes it is because he is poor, it is raining or the cat has died. But never have there been blues because Hollywood took a man's life story and turned it into a blockbuster movie. Until now.

Michael Ford is head of Russell Hall primary, in Bradford. He is also band-leader and rhythm-guitar player for The Yellow and Blues Band, a seven-piece pupil group that specialises in rhythm-and-blues songs.

The Yellow and Blues Band was formed four years ago, during school singing lessons. "We needed brass accompaniment, so I invited some pupils to play," Mr Ford said. "Then, I thought it would be good to have some lead singers.

Then we needed a drummer. Suddenly we had a band."

As its repertoire expanded, the pupil band, named after the school's yellow-and-blue uniform, toured local schools. It has since performed at local music festivals. And, last summer, it was invited to play on Radio 2.

The six non-teaching band members have now gone on to secondary school.

But, every Friday, they return to Russell Hall for practice sessions. This spring, they will record their third CD.

But, before they do, School of Rock will have hit the box offices.

The film, released today, tells the uncannily - if coincidentally - similar story of Dewey Finn, a guitarist played by Jack Black, who has been kicked out of his rock band. Forced to earn a living, he poses as a teacher, and turns a group of 10-year-olds into high-voltage rockers.

"It sounds like our story," said 13-year-old saxophonist, Heidi Bland. "I wouldn't have thought our life was interesting enough to make a film."

But drummer Amy Kenny, 12, has been relishing the limelight. "There may be more bands like us when the film comes out, but we were the first," she said.

While pleased that his life is dramatic enough for Hollywood, Mr Ford insists that there are differences between the two bands. "We play 1960s R'n'B, not hard rock," he said. And, he adds, he has no desire to emulate Dewey Finn's limelight-stealing singer.

"When I was the kids' age, I was in the church choir. But I had to mime. If I ever sang out loud, I got a hymn book cracked around the side of my head.

That lesson has lasted a long time."

International 20

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