The 13th Tribe

March 18, 2000

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By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

RINGGOLD - As their bodies thrash, voices scream and guitars blare, the members of The 13th Tribe are anything but subtle in their worship.

cont. from lifestyle

Lead singer Scott Ancarrow is red-faced as he fills the microphone with lyrics glorifying God, sweat beading on his forehead. "Your glory lifts my head, your glory makes me whole. You've been my all in all, you've brought rest to my soul," he belts out during a recent rehearsal at Ringgold Church of Christ.

The band's mature messages come in a very nonthreatening package: a group of eight guys ranging in age from 16 to 20 wearing baggy pants, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sneakers.


They want to be as approachable as the members of One-21, a punk band from Philadelphia.

"We don't look like we're in a band. We're not intimidating," says spike-haired rhythm guitarist Rick Lee, 19, of Hagerstown.

"We just realize that God gave us this talent, and we wanted to give it back to him," says bass player Casey Parkin, 18, a senior at Boonsboro High School.

They may not be intimidating, but their calling sometimes can be.

"It takes a lot of guts to stand up now. Things seem to be getting worse and worse," says Ancarrow, 20, of Smithsburg. He's a sophomore at Kentucky Christian College in Grayson, Ky., where he's studying youth ministry.

"A lot of kids seem to want to put Christianity in the closet," says the group's lead guitarist Mike Hurley, 20, of Hagerstown.

Not these kids.

Toward the end of its concerts, the group offers a time of worship, during which audience members often share their testimonies.

"They speak about what God has done in their lives, how good it is to have him in their lives," Hurley says.

Five years ago, Hurley started an alternative Christian rock band called Sarah's Child. The members changed, the style evolved, and three years ago, The 13th Tribe came to be. The band, whose name is a reference to the 12 tribes of Israel mentioned in the book of Genesis in the Bible, released its first CD a few weeks ago.

When the band formed, the group was all about ska, upbeat Jamaican dance hall music that blends sounds of jazz, blues, punk and reggae, among others. The members like the sounds of Supertones, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Five Iron Frenzy and POD (Payable on Death) but they wanted to stand apart.

"We got sick of being everybody else," Ancarrow says, so the band developed its own sound, which 19-year-old trumpeter Jon Recher describes as punk ska.

Other members are drummer Ben Wagner, 16, a sophomore at Smithsburg High School; trombonist Dave Honigs, 19, of Essex, Md., a sophomore at Towson State University; and tenor sax player Aaron Worthy, 18, of Hagerstown, a freshman at Shepherd College.

The Tribe has performed at clubs such as The Cave in Hagerstown, Mars Hill in Chambersburg Pa., The Door in Gettysburg Pa., and The Hard Yak Cafe near Harrisburg, Pa. They also perform at Bethel Assembly of God Church in Hagerstown and Ringgold Church of Christ. This summer, the group will do concerts at venues in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

The band even has "roadies," fans who help carry equipment, hand out the band's fliers and hang posters.

"That rocks, that just rocks," Hurley says of the support of the band's 20 or so loyal followers.

When Chase Hunter, 17, a senior at Boonsboro High School, was invited to a concert last summer in Smithsburg by good friend Parkin, he was hooked.

"I was totally brought into it. It was so cool," Chase says. "Since then, I've been a devoted fan."

Chase says there's not much talking during a Tribe concert, but a lot of singing along and, of course, skanking - a form of dancing involving fast kicking and bouncing.

"Dancing expresses how you feel," says fan Sarah Bondurant, 19, a sophomore at Kentucky Christian College, so there's often no need to talk. "Music has the ability to crack the hardest shell," she says.

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