News Column

Mummies ready to kick up some dust in Decatur

July 11, 2014

By Jim Vorel, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.

July 11--DECATUR -- Last year, Here Come the Mummies gained the distinction of being the only band in Decatur Celebration history to command a ticketed admission fee. Their "kick-off concert" at the Lincoln Square Theatre ended up as an unqualified success for the organization, and proof that Decatur residents were willing to pay separate admission for a popular, premium act.

This year, Celebration doubles down on the concept, hosting another ticketed performance by Here Come the Mummies at the Decatur Civic Center the evening of Thursday, July 31. It's their third visit in four years, unheard of for Celebration performers since producer Lori Sturgill took the reins. But the mummies certainly don't mind a little special treatment.

"It's an honor, baby," said red-faced percussionist Java Mummy, who will return once again to bang the bongos and stuff his underwear with plantains, alongside his mummified brothers. "Although it is admittedly lonely at the top of the pyramid."

The mummies are a band that has attracted intense crowd reactions and fan support across the Midwest with their blend of high-energy funk and salacious, fun-loving attitudes. In their first appearance in 2011, they played to one of Celebration's largest-ever crowds on the Funfest Stage in sweltering heat, without ever stopping to take so much as a water break. That performance stands out particularly in the mind of Java when he thinks of Decatur.

"The first thing that comes to my decrepit mind is almost passing out during 'Libido Knievel' due to the insane heat during our first trip to Decatur," he said. "The crowd that night was insane: Huge and lively. Truth be told, part of me wishes we were back out on the street, sweating and playing for everyone."

Clearly the words of a born showman, one who rolls with the punches on a nightly basis and lives up to the expectations that come with such a bombastic stage persona. It's understandable how the sheer effort of keeping up such performances would wear down any mummy over time, and the group's changing lineup reflects this. Familiar players such as "Oozie Mummy" and "Teste Verde" have departed in recent years, only to be replaced by freshly bandaged additions such as "B.B. Queen" and "Midnight Mummy." Others, such as lead vocalist Mummy Cass and Java himself don't appear to be going anywhere.

"You know how it works; bad apples fall from the tree and rot," Java said. "There were so many mummies present at the time of our curse, that to find a new one, we just look under sofa cushions at The Crypt. What we like in a mummy is energy. Lots of cats can blow, but we also need them to tear it up and act like a monkey on crack."

Perhaps the most significant development on the mummy front since last year's Decatur appearance has been an economic one. In a fairly unprecedented move, the band decided to make every piece of music they've ever recorded available for free on their website, simply by visiting It's proof positive that even for a band of 4,000-year-old mummies, the music industry isn't what it used to be. With the great majority of the band's living coming from packed houses and national touring, why not give new listeners a chance to hear the band's whole catalog for free?

"Times are changing," Java admitted, citing an upcoming series of free EP releases the band has planned. "The new generations don't really buy music, they stream it, so we just thought we would let them have it from the source. Perhaps they will dig it and then come see us in concert."

Tickets for the July 31 show are already on sale through the Decatur Celebration and Decatur Civic Center websites. It remains to be seen if the goodwill and intense fervor of previous Here Come the Mummies shows can continue to be recaptured, but Java says that as long as people turn out, they will receive the funkiest show the mummies are capable of delivering.

"Baby, we are powered by the inextinguishable fire in our loins," he said. "So as long as the ladies come to dance, we are going to lay it down."|(217) 421-7973


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