Blue Darts History
How did they get together?
The Blue Darts a.k.a. The Ellroys are a Bendigo blues band performing around Central Victoria from 1991 -2001. They were one of the few bands in Bendigo playing blues and were stalwarts of the scene for a decade. They played a selection of blues covers as well as many originals.
Around 1990, the Blue Darts grew out of an earlier Bendigo blues band called “The Leroys”. The Leroys consisted of Del Jackson on vocals, Warren Ellerton on slide guitar and the late Geoff Phillips on harp. Their repertoire was mainly songs in the vein of the great Mississippi delta female blues singers from the 20s and 30s like Victoria Spivey, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Del Jackson was superb at singing in this style. They played at many venues around town, but were most often found upstairs at the Gold Mines Hotel.
After a time they decided to make the move up Highway 49 and start performing Chicago Blues standards by the likes of Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Howling Wolf. But just as they began practicing new material, Del got an offer to sing with a swing jazz band in Melbourne and, as she had to move there for work as well, she left the band.
At that point the band had recruited Rod Bradbury as the drummer and Jeff Smith (Prairie Dogs) as the bass player, but they needed a vocalist. Rod approached Scott McLennan and after an audition he was in and first Blue Darts line-up was complete.
At this stage they were called “The Ellroys”. But because this sounded so much like “The Leroys” and members thought it might confuse punters, they tossed a few ideas around and Geoff suggested “The Blue Darts a.k.a. The Ellroys” and this is the name they used for their first gigs.
The line-up didn’t stay this way forever and Jeff Smith left to be replaced by Stewart Hassell (Halls of Justice) on bass. Dale Lindrea from Crosstown Blues Review then joined the band to play harp. Eventually pressure from competing gigs convinced Stewie to leave and he was replaced on bass by Dale.
Geoff left the band and the sound slowly started to change to be more guitar-based now there was no harp.
Some months later, Warren (The Pods) left the band and was replaced by Paul Kelic, also from Crosstown. It was at this point that Scott started playing guitar in the band and, over time, he and Paul swapped rhythm and lead playing back and forth between them during songs. You can listen to the Soundcloud recording of “I Wish You Would” and see if you can pick where they swap the riff back and forth between them. Once Warren left some time later, the line-up of Paul, Rod, Scott and Dale was the one that lasted the longest.
However, after a number of years Dale went to Melbourne for work and, as he was playing regularly with his band the Vanguards, he was not always available for gigs.
He was replaced by a succession of short-time bass players, until Mark “Cooch” Coustley (Prairie Dogs, Hoodoo Meatbucket) took over the role for a lengthy stint. Cooch brought his own style to the bass and had a real influence on the band’s sound. But, eventually though, he too left and took up work in Japan.
Dale then returned on bass and has the distinction of being the longest serving Blue Darts bass player!! The classic line-up of Paul, Rod, Scott and Dale is the one that can be heard on the Soundcloud recording linked to this site. It is also the line-up that developed the Blue Darts approach to interpreting the music we liked so much.
Where did they play and did I see them?
In their first incarnation, the Blue Darts a.k.a. The Ellroys played from about 1990 to 2001. If the 1990s are a bit hazy for you for one reason or another and you can’t remember whether you saw the Darts or not, maybe a list of places we played might help. Perhaps you were a regular on Friday and Saturday nights at one or more of these venues and that might help work out whether you saw us or not.
Helen Attrill’s house on King Street (very first gig)
The Shamrock Hotel (Bendigo)
The Shamrock Hotel (Echuca)
The Park View (opposite the QEO and no longer in existence)
The Cumberland (now La Porchetta)
The Old Crown Hotel (now some kind of bar near Chancery Lane)
The City Family Hotel
The Golden Vine Hotel
The Mount Edgecombe Hotel
Velvets (supporting Matt Taylor and Chain)
The Theatre Royal Castlemaine (supporting the Bondi Cigars)
Brennan Park Swimming Pool (yep we really played blues there one afternoon)
The Rifle Brigade Hotel
The Tyson’s Reef Hotel (first public gig for Joe Keely’s 30th birthday party)
The Criterion Hotel Castlemaine
The Waterloo (now called the Bridge Hotel)
The Newmarket Hotel
The Albert Hotel (became the Universal Bar)
Since those days the Darts reformed for the 2016 and 2018 Bendigo Blues Festival and area ready and rarin’ to go for 2020. Hope to see you there!!
Who played what?
Initially the band was Scott on vocals, Rod on drums, Jeff on bass, Warren on guitar and Geoff on harp. But over time Rod also sang some of the songs and Dale also started singing once he joined the band. Three singers gave the band a lot of vocal depth and variety, and the ability to sing harmonies. Scott started as a singer and ended up a singer, and rhythm and lead guitarist. Dale joined as a harp player and ended up as the bass player and vocalist. Paul joined as the lead guitarist, but also played rhythm. There were some songs from time to time when Dale would play harp and Scott would play bass.
Occasionally, members were not available for one reason or another and the classic line-up played as a three-piece, or with a guest player. The Darts played as a Rod, Dale and Scott three-piece on a few occasions, as a Dale, Rod, Scott and Ian Collard (from Collard, Greens and Gravy fame) four-piece, and as a Rod, Dale, Paul Crosstown revival.