The fan fave funk/r&b/jazz band is coming back to the National Cherry Festival on July 6, along with a lineup that includes rock, blues, country, pop and alternative music – sometimes all on the same bill – by Collective Soul, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Uncle Kracker, Blues Traveler, Justin Moore, and Tommy James and the Shondells.
Nashville’s Here Come the Mummies is a mysterious cross between Parliament/Funkadelic and Kiss (before being unmasked), with a touch of 2 Live Crew’s slightly naughty lyrics.
Known for their hot horns and a dynamic rhythm section, it’s the group’s anonymous mummy regalia that has gained the band its greatest publicity.
Its first recording was issued in 2002, but according to spokes mummy “Java,” the band first got together a couple millennia ago.
“For generations prior to our mummification, circa 2000 BC, we were nomadic minstrels,” he said. “Chasing the wrong Pharaoh’s daughters led us to become the mummies you see today. I think we got the better end of the deal.”
Like their predecessors P-Funk and James Brown, the band mixes soulful vocals with funk grooves, topped off with rock riffs and jazzy improvised solos, reflecting its outstanding musicianship.
Java says it’s “terrifying funk from beyond the grave,” perhaps not coincidentally the title of the group’s debut recording.
“It’s a mix of rock, R&B, ska and old school funk that causes maximum booty shaking,” he said.
When they performed at the National Cherry Festival two years ago, the band marched into the grounds in full costume, and played their set swathed head to toe in bandages.
That despite summer temperatures – it’s got to be baking hot in those outfits, right?
“If we were not already dead, the heat would be our demise,” Java said. “It is treacherous.”
Perhaps that’s why the band’s membership sometimes changes from gig to gig.
“We don’t fluctuate much, but sometimes a mummy or two have a dentist appointment they cannot reschedule, so we call down into the basement of the crypt for a replacement,” he said. “First to the top of the stairs gets the gig.”
While no one is giving away the names of the musicians, there are rumored to be several Grammy Award winners in the bunch. Chat boards and comments on online stories often find some fans discussing who might be in the band, while others suggest it’s just more fun to enjoy the music and let the mummies remain anonymous.
Here Come the Mummies is merely part of the fun at the Cherry Festival. The rest of the lineup includes:
• July 5: Collective Soul kicks off the concert schedule. The radio-friendly Georgia band had a hit with “Shine” from its 1994 platinum debut, and soon was touring alongside Aerosmith. The group has been a top seller ever since.
• July 7: The Bihlman Brothers take the stage. Their bluesy, hard-rocking music and musicianship has won them fans across the music world, including some of today’s biggest hitmakers. They’ve backed, recorded with or appeared with the likes of Kid Rock, Pink, Dido, Ray Charles, Buddy Guy, Charlie Daniels and many more.
• July 8: The power pop of Gin Blossoms takes the stage. The band is known for its jangly sound and hits like “Hey Jealousy” from its debut.
• July 9: George Thorogood appears with his band the Destroyers. Thorogood’s hard-rocking blues has been a fan favorite since the 70s, and songs like “Bad to the Bone” and “Who Do You Love?” are staples of his live shows.
• July 10: The Under The Sun Tour, including Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Blues Traveler and Uncle Kracker, showcases music crossing from pop to punk, disco to country, garage rock to blues, all of it toe-tapping.
• July 11: Justin Moore takes the stage. Released in February 2009, Moore’s song “Small Town USA” topped the charts and paved the way for his self-titled debut, which became a Top Ten success. He was named New Artist of the Year for 2014 at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Opening the show will be hometown favorite Ryan Whyte Maloney, recently a contestant on NBC’s hit TV show “The Voice.”
• July 12: Closing out the fest will be Tommy James and the Shondells. James hit the charts back in 1966 with “Hanky Panky.” Songs like “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” subsequently became hits.
Tickets for each show are available individually, or a Bay Side Music Pass is good for general admission seating to all eight concerts. For additional information, visit cherryfestival.org or call (231) 947-4230.