Live from Joe Anderson's South Philadelphia basement, it's time to strut.
Armed with a laptop, a hard drive of nearly 200,000 Mummer recordings, and a near-religious devotion to all things Mum, Anderson is kicking off his nightly broadcast of the world's only Mummers' radio station: Mum Radio, of course.
"We're strutting away here on Mum Radio, as always," he says into the microphone, beaming and nearly strutting in his folding chair.
For Anderson, the broadcast is a labor of love.
Whether you see in Mummery a timeless Philadelphia tradition, or an embarrassing band of costumed louts, one thing is undeniable: In it exists a primal sense of community - bonds of brother- and sisterhood knowable only to those born into the ranks of sequined strutters.
We all yearn to belong to something. And more than anything else, Joe Anderson wanted to belong to the Mummer community.
But alas, for an aspiring Mummer, Anderson, 38, was dealt an unfortunate birthright. Growing up in Delaware County, he was left to admire his obsession from afar.
He saw his first parade at 10 and joined the Greater Overbrook String Band. When he moved to Daytona Beach for a time after high school to pursue his DJ career, he would sometimes fly back for Tuesday rehearsals.
But he yearned for a deeper connection.
The outsider wanted an insider's view - wanted to live on Second Street, in the heart of Mum Town, as he calls it.
"I wanted the true feeling of what it's like to be in South Philadelphia during Mum Season," he said.
He wanted to walk out his front door and stroll down Two Street to see the clubhouses all lit up, the Mummers lining up for their new costumes wrapped in plastic, and the fancy brigades and string bands pushing their props to the I-95 practice grounds.
Some Philadelphia dreams come true.
Last year, Anderson and his girlfriend made the leap, moving from Delaware County to a rented rowhouse on Tree Street, just a block off Second Street and smack in the heart of the Mumiverse.
Above the couch, Anderson hung a framed photo of himself marching past City Hall with the Woodland String Band. From a pipe in the basement, he hung his keepsake costumes. And from the dining room table, he went to work accomplishing another dream: Mum Radio.
It had been another longtime dream: a radio station dedicated to nothing but the Mummers. An Internet station, so it could reach fans far and wide. From Labor Day to New Year's - Mum Season - the strains of the string and brass bands can be heard 24 hours a day at Mumradio.com. With the help of his assistant and buddy, Mike Hill, he does a live broadcast each night at 7 p.m.
There's Cold Call Tuesdays, where he surprises club captains, hoping to land Mummer gossip about parade day.
Wench Wednesdays, which, well, just sounded right.
Thursday's Mum Noon Workout.
And Fancy Fridays, a night of nothing but fancy brigades.
While the music is the attraction, Anderson sees Mum Radio serving a larger aim: combating what he sees as unfair stereotypes - that drunken loutish bit - and highlighting the charitable work, the cancer benefits and toy drives.
"There are so many good things that happen here in South Philadelphia - Mum Town, USA - that people just don't know about," he said.
Listeners are loving it.
Sage Smith of Philip Street listens with her 5-year-old son, Chalie - without the "r" - who struts around the living room with his Mummer umbrella.
Danny "Wench" Tecce listens while he cooks chicken cutlets at Tony's Market at Second and Porter, enjoying all the old-time string band recordings.
Freddi Carlip, 71, who grew up at Fourth and Tasker but now lives in Lewisburg, Pa., listens because, she says, "it gives me a taste of what I miss."
By keeping the music coming, by holding the Mummers up to themselves, Anderson, once an outsider, has become an insider.
"When I walk down Second Street," he said, proudly, "people that don't know my name, they'll say, that's the Mum Radio guy."
email@example.com 215-854-2759 @MikeNewall