Nobody really knows who exactly is under wraps in Here Come the Mummies. The flamboyant nine-piece super funk rock band out of Nashville perform every live show in copious amounts of gauze and linen that cover each of the members bodies from head to toe. It serves a dual purpose — providing visual dimension to their incendiary concerts as well as a dose of shrouded ambiguity.
As the legend goes, all nine contributors are well-regarded, Grammy-winning musicians on major labels that contractually cannot reveal their true identities, and being mysterious (even to record execs) allow them to go rogue and perform the music close to their hearts.
HERE COME THE MUMMIES
When: 8 p.m. February 10
Where: Concord Music Hall, 2047 N. Milwaukee
“There is some truth to those rumors. More than that, we cannot say,” says guitarist and lead vocalist Mummy Cass coyly during a recent interview ahead of the band’s Saturday night show at Concord Music Hall. The group is consistent with their fairy tale story that they are 5,000-year-old Egyptian mummies that “got too friendly with the Pharaoh’s daughters, and got cursed to wander the Earth forever [playing music],” says Cass. But pressing for info on how they actually first met in this world eons ago, he adds, “We used to play weddings and such back when we were mere mortals.”
With a lineup that also includes Eddie Mummy on drums and vocals, Spazzy Mummy on keys and vocals, K.W. Tut on bass and vocals, Mummy Rah on tenor sax, The Flu on baritone sax, Midnight Mummy on baritone sax and syntar, The Pole! on bass and BB Queen on trumpet, the group has released nine studio albums since forming in the early 2000s, all peppered with strong influences of Sly and the Family Stone, the Commodores, Kool & the Gang and Stevie Wonder. But their live shows is where Here Comes the Mummies really come to life, reminiscent of the spunk and fun of George Clinton and the Parliament-Funkadelic and Earth, Wind & Fire, with a solid slice of Halloween and “Monster Mash” thrown into the mix.
Dressing is not only utilitarian to the band, but it also provides another dimension for the audience, admits Cass. “There’s something about it that lets folks project their fantasies onto us,” which makes for a better show overall. With a reputation for having one of the most entertaining concerts in this millennia, many dates sell out quickly and the band has amassed a following of devotees.
Because of the members’ varying solo projects and schedules (“We eat, sleep and breathe music. We can’t do anything else,” says Cass), the band has mostly stuck to touring the Midwest and Eastern part of the United States with a number of repeat stops in Chicago, a place they enjoy playing for its “world-class music” culture, says Cass. Some of their most memorable gigs he says is playing Taste of Randolph and opening for some local scions like Mavis Staples and Cheap Trick.
“We have been able to support some of our favorites, some absolutely legendary acts like Mavis, Parliament, KC and the Sunshine Band,” lists Cass. “Robin [Zander] asked us if there was any song of Cheap Trick we wanted to hear them play! Can you imagine?”
This year, Here Come the Mummies will release a new live album as well, attempting to capture their buoyant live energy on record. “This is one of the most exciting things we’ve ever done,” says Cass, also hinting that they will slip brand-new, unrecorded songs into each set all year long. “We wanna hear the people of each town cheering and singing along,” he continues. “It’s always a pleasure to be recognized for your hard work, no matter form that takes.”
Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.