Under the Purple Moon
The Krewe of Renegades moves on to a new name and a new recording effort. 'Under The Purple Moon' is the follow up CD to the WAMA nominated 'Radiatin' Street Side' and continues to feature Rita Clarke who is aided and abetted by a cadre of notable sideman. Since shaking off the cajun-music tag of the '90s 'Squeeze Box R&R', the artist born Rita Filippone aka 'THE HEATA'; has proven to be an undeniably prolific musician - not to imply the soulful voiced troubadour ever had a problem in that area. During the first phase of her career, from '81-'96, as an underrated backup singer and performer, she contributed to three original recordings. During this implicit roots embracing period, Rita relocated her recording and performing activity to Maryland and teamed up with husband and partner Richard Clarke. On this new and latest recording, 'Under The Purple Moon' Rita's voice soars and softly shivers, surrenders and sasses back with unflinching frankness about matters de amour. This is the fifth recording project for the songwriter/producer creative team of Rita & Richard Clarke. All of these recording projects have featured the creative saxophone work and talents of their friend, Chris Watling. This is also the fourth collaboration with friend and performing partner, Hurricane Howie who handles the lions share of keyboard work. This track record is all the more remarkable given that not one 'KREWE' album has ever been easy to categorize. Recordings in a variety of blues and jazz based settings (with that New Orleans flavor) led up to the present period and experiments in more traditional R&B inspired jammings with a touch of soul. This most recent soundtrack was graced with guitarist Keith Grimes who's style, sound and telecaster were inspirational. The NATURALS rhythm section is also complimented by long time band partners Jon 'ACE' Combs and Leo 'SCATMAN' Aspiras. Stellar cameo efforts are recorded by Moe Nelson, Tam Sullivan, Tommy Gros and Derrick Houston. This ensemble of luminaries and musicians 'The Naturals' all hail from Rita's Maryland home base and are led by funky spirited drummer Richard 'RC' Clarke. Throughout their past efforts, this band confounded those critics who want to categorize them as a cajun/blues revivalist band when in fact, they are living artists in their own right whose primary well of inspiration is the deep blues and R&B traditions of America's music. Those pioneer inclinations have directed 'The Naturals' to reconnect those blues / R&B expressions both distant and ancestral. This new recording of 12 songs and the band's name 'The Naturals' are in honor of those natural progressions of America's roots music. What 'Under The Purple Moon' offers is a tightly rehearsed band of veteran musicians recording a program of soulful mixed genres. Some of the highlights include a funky adaptation of a Dr. John song 'When This Battle Is Over' mixed with newly composed songs 'Under The Purple Moon' and 'Take Care Of The Heart'; which might pass as an undiscovered Dan Penn ballad. The classic feel of a love-song confessional is covered with 'Ruler Of My Heart' which originally served as the model for Otis Reddings first hit 'Pain In My Heart'. A funkified version of the tried-and-true 'Deep River Blues' is played with the abandon of a Bourbon Street Jug band and the traditional 'Reconsider Me' pays homage to the late great Johnny Adams. Rita and Richard conjure up some heavy spirits with two more newly composed songs 'What Was I Thinking' and 'The Menopause Song', which takes a tongue-in-cheek look at life at midstream. Two more of the bands favorite influences: James Booker and Allan Toussaint contribute additional songs, 'So Swell When You're Well' and 'Hang Tuff'. Together 'The Naturals' have added the most essential ingredient of all, the incalculable effect of their own enveloping, indomitable spirit.. What sounds at first like first-class R&B-based arrangements turn out to be small gems whose facets, in fact, reflect entire hemispheres of New Orleans R&B, Northern Soul and Gospel influences. Instead of a catalog stuffer, 'Under The Purple Moon' proves itself a casual and comprehensive statement of an all consuming career. One might be tempted to file away those old 45's, and leave this recording stuck in that CD tray, and every time it's over wishing there was more. After 15 years together Rita & Richard appear to have reached a pinnacle in their career, demonstrating why they need to be thought of as one of Washington's most accomplished and innovative artists. 'This album expands on a concept we started three albums ago,' says Richard of the ambitious vision on 'Under the Purple Moon'. 'It basically aims to re-establish certain foundational types of music that underlie what's going on today. This music is the source from which many young people draw much of their inspiration.' That's true not only for young people, but for 'The NATURALS' as well, whose very sustenance seems to come from the music they write and perform. Lucky for the listener it just seems like RITA CLARKE and the NATURALS are ample testament to the enduring power of soulfully charged music.