ABOUT THE BAND
Smooth Ops is like a great big musical family, and our rapport with each other shines through in our performances. Get to know the people behind the music and learn a bit more about our band members below.
Tara is lead vocalist and joint band manager of Smooth Ops. A member of Smooth Ops since 2012, Tara is one of Canberra's most versatile and in-demand vocal talents. Influenced by stars like Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Eva Cassidy, she sings everything from soulful jazz and heart-filled blues to rock and pop. Tara is also a session vocalist and vocal arranger, lending her talents to multiple original music projects in the studio, and performs regularly as a soloist and with the Tara Louise Duo.
Justin is lead vocalist and joint manager of Smooth Ops with Tara. Joining as a guest male vocalist for Smooth Ops in 2016, Justin came on board as a permanent member of the front line in January 2017. In addition to immersing himself in the Top 40 world of Smooth Ops, Justin has also fronted blues band The Levee and recorded an originals album with them, as well as fronting Fleetwood Mac tribute band Sweet Little Lies and is currently singing with a brand new Pink Floyd tribute act.
Amy comes to us as a highly talented and seasoned performer, most recently as a singer with the Radio City Rockettes in New York, multiple musicals including Annie, Hairspray, Guys and Dolls and Sweet Charity, and as a singer aboard Princess Cruises. As well as being a fantastic vocalist, Amy is a talented dancer and choreographer and since making Canberra home teaches singing and dancing at Bom Funk Dance Studio.
Renae is a professional vocalist, guitarist and singer/songwriter originally hailing from Sydney, Australia. Writing and recording songs since 2014, Renae is a graduate of the Hunter School of Performing Arts and performed prolifically in Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley before moving to Canberra in 2016. Renae was a finalist in Australian Idol and the Telstra Road to Discovery, and supported Australia’s Got Talent winner Jack Vidgen on his 2012 tour. She brings strong and sultry vocals, positive vibes and killer harmonies to Smooth Ops, and performs as a backup for both Amy and Tara.
Keys + backing vocals
Julia's contributions on keyboard give Smooth Ops its full sound and add the instrumental authenticity the band is known for. Her time with the keys has covered classical, gospel, pop, rock and blues, and vocally she is an experienced harmony singer. She also served many years as the band's previous musical director and administrator, and currently assists the band to bring its complex arrangements and songs to life with excellent attention to detail.
Anthony started out playing Classical and Spanish guitar but later moved on to playing his favourite rock songs. He has put his chops into action on stage with numerous cover and originals bands such as Dogs on Lino, 11th hour and Axis. He also spent a couple of years performing with blues artist Mick Reid, with whom he recorded the album Long Hard Road. Anthony is known for his incredible ability to nail classic guitar solos note-for-note.
Drums + percussion
Phil Measham has been playing in Canberra and throughout the Eastern States for many years. Predominantly a session drummer, Phil has worked with numerous Australian and international artists (most recently country stars Paul Costa, Aly Cook, Ben Ransom and NeillyRich) and brings a wealth of flair to the band. He does his best to be entertaining while providing solid grooves with some funky features for Smooth Ops' songs. Phil uses Soultone Cymbals exclusively and is featured on the Soultone Website.
Mel is the latest groovy addition to Smooth Ops, taking over the bass baton from Ken McNally in late 2021. Mel's cool onstage composure belies a seriously funky groove, and her solid rhythms give style and flair to the Smooth Ops backline. Mel has performed prolifically with Canberra country rock band Urban Drover, and has taken to Smooth Ops' pop, rock and soul rep with ease.
Production and sound
Jack is a highly promising up-and-coming sound engineer in Canberra. Jack is a master at mixing the band's sound for any stage and venue, with an amazing calmness and problem-solving ability that sees him dealing with live sound challenges with ease. When not creating amazing live mixes for Smooth Ops, Jack can be found lending his talents to recording and mixing original materials for many different recording artists at Pendragon Studios.
Many talented musicians have graced the Smooth Ops stage, and some still make cameo appearances every now and then!
After 7 years with Smooth Ops, Craig is now pursuing his interest in country music with local Canberra act Urban Drover. However from time to time he also steps back on stage with us and we're reminded of what a great frontman he is! Craig has been performing in Canberra for many years, both in bands and on the theatre stage in shows such as A Chorus Line, West Side Story and Jazz Garters.
As sound engineer for nearly 3 years, Dene found there was an alternative to those 1am lug outs - superannuation! Dene is the owner/manager of Tru Sound Music Studios in Canberra. When he's not making other people's audio sound good, he can be found playing guitar and banjo alongside Craig in Urban Drover.
Sound + drums
Steve Trewartha was first drummer for Smooth Ops but then moved to indulge his other passion, sound production, following the departure of Dene Burton. Steve comes from a gospel background but is at home with all styles of music, including the disco, soul and funk material that is Smooth Ops.
For over 10 years Ken's bass was the other half of the Smooth Ops rock solid rhythm section, bringing a signature groove to the band's sound. Ken has been playing the bass for as long as he can remember, performing in various blues, rock, gospel, country and jazz bands around NSW and the ACT. In one of Smooth Ops' greatest love stories, Ken and singer Rachel began dating in 2019 after being in the band together for 10 years, and were married in 2020. Ken left the band in 2021 to enjoy married life with Rach and to pursue his passion of building and repairing guitars.
Rachel McNally (nee Thorne) performed with Smooth Ops almost from the beginning, coming back on board as a permanent member multiple times throughout the band's lineup changes. A former vocalist with the Australian Army, Rachel has performed in nationally televised concerts alongside Kylie Minogue and John Farnham as well as venturing into the studio with bands such as Zootster, Ish and with the musical genius Michael Dooley in In2Deep. Rachel is today a successful vocal coach and also one of Canberra's most sought-after singers, especially in the jazz genre. Rachel formally left Smooth Ops at the end of 2021 to focus on her teaching and to enjoy life with Ken in Yass.
Nicole is an extremely accomplished vocalist and was a member of the Smooth Ops front line from 2014 to 2021. A graduate of the CMAA Academy of Country Music, Nicole was a Tamworth Star Maker Grand Finalist and played main stage at the Gympie Muster. Her talents extend past country, as she has fronted bands playing jazz, pop and rock material, and is an accomplished song writer and session vocalist. Nicole left the band in early 2022 to pursue her career as a vocal coach at the Young Conservatorium of Music and as part of her own vocal coaching business La Belle Chanteuse.