Jackson’s 21 South Parties Like It’s 1899
By Phil Stilton
JACKSON—While the cast of the television show Amish Mafia have recently made a big splash in the entertainment blogosphere with their hit Discovery Channel program this year, another band of Amish have been rocking the east coast for over ten years.
“Straight Outta Lancaster”, the Amish Outlaws, a band that features real ex-Amish community members, have gone from the fields to the stage, even earning themselves the “Top Entertainment Pick” award by New York Magazine in their annual Winter Weddings issue in 2012.
Unlike Lebanon Levi and his small gang of Amish tough guys who claim in the television show to run Lancaster County with an iron fist, the Amish Outlaws rule the stage and the audience at each of their performances. While the Amish Mafia are out tossing buggies, running hut parties and making sure there’s no adultery in their community, the Amish Outlaws made sure the “English” patrons, that’s what they call non-Amish Americans, at 21 South had one of the wildest nights out in Jackson in 2013.
Three members of the five man band are ex-Amish, including lead singer Brother Hezekiah, bass player Brother Ezekiel and keyboardist Brother Amos.
According to Hezekiah, the three had left the Amish community years ago in search of a new life and were brought together ten years ago through the love of “English” rock music, a taboo in Amish society.
As an Amish kid growing up, he said he had very limited access to rock music, but would sneak out with his friends to the local clubs and found a new calling in life. It was one far from the hard life in the Amish community, a hard life on the road as a musician.
As far as the Amish Outlaws ever bringing their road show back home to Lancaster, Hezekiah said, it’s doubtful. “Probably not,” he said. “It depends on the situation, but I’d say that’s not going to happen. We actually have a big Amish following in Maryland and they come out for us. They’re a different type of Amish down there. Like, the guy I met once at a gas station, he had a Back Street Boys kind of beard, so clearly he’s able to use the good razors, plus all the Amish girls he was with were smoking hot…I mean way too hot. They even had tans and not the tan you would get outdoors. They went to the tanning salon…just they’re wearing an Amish outfit. Maybe they got some different rules, even the fact that they were at a gas station.”
While fans of bands sometimes come to shows in costume, the band says that quite often people come out to their shows with Amish style clothes, especially in Maryland. “There’s a possibility I might move to Maryland one day and run for Congress. It’s ridiculous how much of a following we have there,” he added. He added, many come out with an Amish outfit and bald cap.
What should you expect at an Amish Outlaws performance? “We get people motivated and really moving, really shaking on the dance floor,” Hezekiah said in an interview with the Ocean Signal. “I think because of that, generally, we had success everywhere we have played.” The Outlaws play a wide range of covers from Dropkick Murphy’s to Elvis to Toby Keith to Dr. Dre to Marvin Gaye, but you won’t hear them play any of the Amish classics.
In case you’re wondering whether the television show, Amish Mafia is actually real, Hezekiah says he doubts it, but if it is, it’s not sanctioned by the community like it’s portrayed on television. “I never saw anything like that when I lived there, so I’m going to say it’s probably not true. I left 20 years ago, so anything can happen, but I ‘d say no,” he said.
Photos by Phil Stilton