She's Got a Sax to Grind

new tunes from the Sue Orfield Band

Emily Albrent, photos by Marie Ketring

The Sue Orfield Band is no stranger to the Chippewa Valley.  Whether it’s smooth jazz or original rock, Orfield – who plays the tenor sax – is always busy writing music. Her band’s newest album, Fight the Good Fight, is a collection of songs that are all unique in their own way.

Orfield and the band don’t have one specific method for writing and arranging their songs. “Sometimes the band sort of arranges it when it is played live,” Orfield said. “When it comes to writing and arranging, they all come out in their own way.”

And that creates an interesting variety. “It is a collection of songs that range from cartoon music to rock and blues to pretty ballads and even a song that is a prayer for victims of cancer,” Orfield said. “It’s fairly eclectic.”

Almost all of the songs have a story behind them. Orfield had lived in Seattle for 15 years, and that is what, appropriately, inspired the song “Seattle.”

“My life was in a fair amount of turmoil when I left there, and I have very fond memories of Seattle and at the same time it’s very bittersweet for me,” Orfield said.

The song “I Can’t Shake This Sadness” is a tribute to one of Orfield’s students, who committed suicide. “I wrote that song for him,” she said. “I think of him when I play it.”

“Fight the Good Fight” is about a friend who died of cancer. Orfield said she knew her friend was dying and one day the song came to her and she said it turned into an anthem for those who are suffering from the disease. Along the same lines, the CD is titled Fight the Good Fight, which Orfield said is partially because of her friend with cancer.

“When I make a record or recording of any kind I’m really trying to put a milestone on where I am at in my life and what I have been doing.” – Sue Orfield, on her band’s new album, Fight the Good Fight

“We thought it was a good title,” Orfield said  “It can be taken many different ways, so we said we would go with that, and it has a lot of meaning for me.”

The cover artwork by Diane Schlenker was meant to contribute to the CD. “The water can on the front, the artwork, is symbolic,” Orfield said. “The only thing you use watering cans for is to make things grow and to help them live.”  

For Orfield, the most rewarding part of this CD was being done with it. “I don’t mean, ‘Oh great, it’s behind me,’ ” she said. “At least for me, when I make a record or recording of any kind I’m really trying to put a milestone on where I am at in my life and what I have been doing, and it’s one of those things where you are proud to have done.”

While she enjoys writing and arranging songs, Orfield said one of the best aspects about being a part of the band are being with the other members. She and Randy Sinz (bass and vocals), Dave Schrader (drums and vocals) and Mike Schlenker (guitar) have been playing together for six years.

“The really amazing part of playing music is that you make relationships with the people in your band, and the guys from my band are freaking awesome,” she said. “I love them.”

You can purchase Fight The Good Fight at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St. There will also be an album release show on Sept. 20 at The Stones Throw, 304 Eau Claire St., at 8pm.

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