The Bacon Brothers now have company in their musical effort to help save Philadelphia's greatest New Year's tradition.
Tony Luke Jr. - the cheesesteak czar and, who knew?, R&B singer - debuted "Watch the Mummers Strut" to a throng of 2,000 Mummers rehearsing at the Convention Center yesterday.
"And the crowd went crazy," said Luke, who earlier this month released a rocking paen to Philadelphia's culinary staple, the cheesesteak.
"Watch the Mummers Strut," featuring Luke's raspy pipes and the Tacony Funk Machine, was posted this morning on iTunes. Downloads cost $1.99 and all proceeds will benefit the Save the Mummers organization.
"We did it so-so the Mummers would have revenue every year," Luke said. "We've got to keep this alive."
Mummery is on the ropes in its hometown. Facing a $31 million deficit, the city has withdrawn $300,000 in prize money for the second year.
The city is also charging the Mummers $150,000 to cover the costs of police and street cleaning associated with the parade. Though fund-raising efforts by local politicians have raised about $107,000, the Mummers still have to pony up the balance.
Organizers also said that there are fewer bookings this year for individual Mummer bands to perform at private functions.
Earlier this month, Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael, staged a benefit concert for mummery at the Electric Factory. In June, the brothers rerecorded their tribute to the Broad Street parade, "New Year's Day," with two-dozen Mummers. They donated 5,000 copies of a new DVD that features the song to the Save the Mummers Fund. It is available through http://www.savethemummers.com.
"Watch the Mummers Strut," written by Skip Denenberg, features a gaggle of local musical luminaries including rockabilly pioneer Charlie Gracie, Rocco Notte of the A's, producer and guitarist George Manney, and Barry Warhoftig from the Hot Club of Philadelphia.
"We didn't want to slight any Mummer, so there are no Mummers on the track," Luke said.
There is, however, a short glockenspiel and banjo break in the song that conjures images of all the parade's glittery grandeur.
"We wanted to make it a tribute to all Mummers," Luke said.