The Whyte/Orfield Band
Three time Grammy award nominee, Ellen Whyte, has released her fourth album, appropriately titled: Four Way Stop, a soaring achievement from an accomplished singer songwriter. Long time Portland, Oregon KINK FM 102 Blues Show radio personality, Bob Ancheta raved that it gave him “goose bumps!”
Ellen has fronted bands continuously now for 35 years, as she has three critically acclaimed albums in addition to the latest effort. She was captivated by music since she was a child growing up in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Leaving the humidity and the taffeta dresses of her accordion marching band behind, Ellen branched out to blue grass, gospel, rock, blues and jazz. Her eclectic tastes in music include heroes such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Bonnie Raitt.
Ellen is known for her astonishing vocals, as she gracefully moves among genres from blues to jazz to funk and ballads. Her percussive rhythm guitar work is well suited to her voice, and she plays solo, in duos and trios, up to a full nine piece band complete with a horn section. She’s won numerous awards for her work, including consideration for two Grammy Award nominations in 1999 and most recently in 2009 for “Four Way Stop.”
Speaking of such, Grammy award producer Dennis Walker had this to say after working on the third CD, Standing at the Sunrise: “She not only sings like an angel, but brings her own styling and phrasing to every song that is completely individual. Thank God for Ellen Whyte who is one of the last few who can still sing blues and pop and jazz, and still stand up on a stage and sing big band standards with the best of them.”
Ellen, guitarist Garry Meziere, and her husband John Mullin, have collaborated with veteran musicians—“The ‘A’ List Commandos,” as Ellen likes to refer to them-- to produce a sophisticated, yet accessible sound that synchs up well with thoughtful and emotionally infused lyrics.
In addition to the Northwest, Ellen tours in the Mid West and on the East Coast, West Coast, and was a featured artist in the International Blues festival in Montreal. Get ready for some “Heart Rockin’ Music” with Ellen Whyte!
Sue Orfield plays the tenor saxophone with the whimsy of Sonny Rollins, the passion of Kurt Cobain, the soul of Bill Withers, and the joy of Ella Fitzgerald. Along with a compelling mastery of her instrument, Sue brings to the stage a powerful presence and joy of all things musical.
Sue has played with many musical greats over the years, including Bo Diddley, Bobby McFerrin, The Indigo Girls, Ann Wilson (Heart), Dizzy Gillespie, Ivan Neville, Jo Dee Messina, among others. She tours internationally with several groups, including The Tiptons Sax Quartet (formerly The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet) (Seattle/NYC), and Ellen Whyte (Portland).
Sue was voted "Best Horn" by the Washington Blues Society for the years 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Her own group, The Sue Orfield Band (SOB), highlights Orfield's talents as a composer as well as a player. SOB was voted Best Jazz Band in Volume One's "Best Of The Chippewa Valley 2009" reader poll. (Eau Claire, WI)
Sue makes her home in the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin, and plays locally with bands from all over Wisconsin and Minnesota, including The Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra, Catya's Trio, Willie Walker And The Butanes, Deep Water Reunion, Combo Flambe, and many more.
Mike Schlenker is a mainstay in the Chippewa Valley music scene. He’s been playing music locally, and touring for 30 years, and is most noted for playing with bands such as Another Carnival, Axis, and the Jimmy Solberg Band.
Mike has shared the stage with many notable musicians over the years, including Howard Ludtke, Peter Phippen, and Jo Dee Messina. He currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, playing music and running his music store, Speed of Sound.
Randy Sinz has been playing music professionally for over 44 years. Although he first learned to play guitar, first stage performance on bass was at the age of 12 with his father’s band, Jerry Sinz and his Dairyland Ranch Hands.
After a road tour in the 70’s with the “Al Perry Country Affair,” he played with a number of popular bands from the Chippewa Valley, including the Cadillac Cowboys, Tequila Sage, Southern Serenade, the Dairyland Ranch Hands, and Rada-Dada.
In addition to playing with the Sue Orfield Band, he currently plays electric and upright bass with Ranger Rudy & the Swingin’ Wingtips, Catya’s Trio, AcoustiHoo, Code Blue, and Rada-Dada.
Drummer Dave Schrader has performed in many local cover bands around the Chippewa Valley since the age of 15. As a road warrior and through hard knocks and dirty socks, he spent time traveling with several bands from 1973 through 1977 gaining experience in different genres.
During the 1980s he was a proud member of “Southern Serenade,” a popular country-rock group who thrilled audiences with their vocal and musical talents. In 1991, he provided the drum tracks for the rock band “Rhythm Kings” second CD. Currently, he is also a member of “Dixie & The Dreamers.”
He brings to the table a smooth, versatile approach to multiple styles of music and a solid background vocal capability.