Frequently Asked Questions is a band made up of vocals, piano, bass and drums (more or less!), specialising in jazz, swing, lounge, latin and blues and Latin. We have been playing together since 2002, and each of us has played in a number of other ensembles. Together we play regularly at Casino Canberra, and for functions of the Canberra Repertory Theatre Company. Other venues where we have played include Old Parliament House, the Hyatt Hotel, the National Press Club, the Southern Cross Yacht Club, the George Harcourt Inn, Kamberra Winery, Knightsbridge Bar, the Royal Canberra Golf Club, the Oaks Brasserie, First Floor Restaurant, the Ottoman Restaurant, Z Brasserie, the Hellenic Club, the Lodge and even a boat, the MV Southern Cross! We have also played in private homes, and at festivals - recently returning from some very successful performances at the Merimbula Jazz Festival.
Sarah Byrne - Vocals
Sarah studied jazz vocals in Brisbane with Joe Andre, before her move to Canberra, where she later studied for several years with the legendary jazz singer Gery Scott. After fronting a local amateur seven-piece jazz & blues combo in 2000, and performing as a duo with a jazz guitarist (who sadly moved to Paris), she met James and Peter in 2002. After toying with a few even-less-Googleable band names, they formed Frequently Asked Questions in 2002 and have never looked back. Sarah is also the vocalist for the 20-piece Spectrum Big Band, playing recently to excellent reviews at the Wagga Wagga, Moruya and Merimbula Jazz Festivals, and sings occasionally with other bands around town. Sarah is a true jazz stylist whose warm, mezzo tones are perfectly suited to everything from swing to blues.
James Groves - Piano
James' first ever job, at the age of seventeen, was as the regular jazz pianist at a Port Adelaide hotel. Flash forward a few years and he is bringing his sensitive touch and innovative style to the keys at venues all over Canberra. James has been Musical Director for a few theatre productions, and has written a couple of scores, but is recently known for his work as pianist for Frequently Asked Questions and for Canberra big band In Full Swing, appearing on their CD "Swing Set". He also sometimes performs with the Spectrum Big Band, including their recent very successful performances at the Merimbula Jazz Festival. He is blessed with a great jazz sensibility as well as a hot set of fingers!
Peter McDonald - Bass & Tuba
Peter is something of a renaissance man. On those rare occasions when he is not playing bass for Frequently Asked Questions, the 20-piece Spectrum Big Band, the Canberra City Concert Band, or pretty much every musical theatre orchestra in Canberra, he is playing the tuba or percussion instead. That is unless he is writing one of his award-winning children's musicals. Peter is a true musician's musician, providing a groovy bass rhythm - and a few witty solo licks - which make him an in-demand player for a whole variety of ensembles around Canberra, supporting everyone from Leisa Keen to Toni Lamond ("The Full Monty"). Recently he has been experimenting with some jazz tuba solos which have been hugely successful with FAQ audiences!
Bruce Smyth - Drums
Bruce began playing drums in 1970 in a primary school marching band where drum lessons were held in the school shelter shed for 20 cents a lesson. By 12, Bruce was playing in a band with Mark Trevorrow (aka ‘Bob Downe’). For many years he worked as a professional freelance musician in Melbourne having studied with some of Australia’s leading drummers. He worked at the Galaxy Nightclub in Melbourne six nights a week for almost a year as part of the backing band for many popular artists. He also appeared on Countdown and toured with US rock guitar legend Bo Didley. Bruce played with many other well-known artists in the 1980s, including the Drifters, Delilah, Ray Burgess, Little Patti, Lucky Starr, Jimmy Little, Ricky May and Lee Conway. He has played session work, in big bands, for professional theatre, brass quintets, and even piano accordion bands. After a bit of a break from drumming, and a move to Canberra, he has returned to his drums with gusto. He and his ever growing collection of drum kits are now in great demand all over town.
Frequently Asked Questions sometimes likes to "upsize the combo" by adding other instruments. Some bios will be posted shortly, but in the meantime you can read about gigs with our favourite guest musicians on the News page.