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W.D. Hany
By Jamie Wozny
For BaltimoreStories.com

“We want to encourage fellow believers, to challenge unbelievers, to uplift people's spirits, to lift up God's name and to have a fun fellowship for ourselves. That's the general idea,” said Dennis Nielsen about his band's goals. Nielsen is the guitarist of W.D. Hany, a Christian pop/rock band.

They allow God to guide them on their musical paths. They believe that their passion for playing comes from him. Although many bands play for money, fame or just for fun, W.D. Hany plays because it believes it has been given a gift. “Our passion for music comes from God. He put a profound deep-seated switch inside each of us and turned it on,” vocalist Laura Dause said.

Band members include vocalist Laura Dause, drummer Carl Bassey, lead guitarist Dennis Nielsen and bass guitarist Jerry Grove. All of the band members have full-time jobs as well.

Dause's daily routine involves music too. She is in the Soldiers Chorus of the Army's Field Band. Nielsen said that she helps a lot when trying to perfect their playing skills.

They describe their music as Christian pop/rock with small measures of world music influences thrown in here and there. The sounds that come out of their amps are soft, rhythmic and soothing. The music is laid back and melodic. Some songs have a rock feel.

The fact that the majority of them have careers makes it harder for them to get together to practice. Yet, they still make time every Monday night for about two hours to practice at Grove's house in Columbia. They have been doing this since the band's start in June 2002.

During practice they work out new songs and keep up with the old ones. Most of the music that they practice consists of originals. They also play a few covers. They have an untitled CD with five original songs. During practices they pray as well. It is also their time to discuss business and strategy.

“This band defines passion for music and for God too," said Hannah Nielsen, guitarist Dennis Nielsen's daughter, "They are amazingly dedicated to the fact that God gave them a gift. It's their time to share it now, even if it's not for money.”

They practice more than they perform. This is one of their rough spots. They play on occasion now, not even once a month. They say that they have been close to averaging one gig a month but then something always gets in the way. They hope to be able to get to that point soon. They find that their toughest challenge is balancing time.

Other current goals W.D. Hany members want to conquer include becoming a strong regional Christian rock group. “We want to write and perform to the absolute best of our abilities, meaning we want to deliver something we'd want to buy ourselves and listen to over and over. We've got a long way to go on delivering that one. But that's what we'd like to do,” Nielsen said.

They are also currently in search of a band manager because they have never had one. By default, guitarist Dennis Nielsen acts as the manager and takes charge when needed.

In the meantime, they continue to play at churches, coffee houses and concerts. The churches include First Baptist Church of Hyattsville, Forcey Memorial Church and First Baptist Church of Laurel. Although these are the most common places they play, they have had the opportunity to open for a national headliner in spring 2003 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. The headliner was Michael English, a celebrity of the Christian rock world. They were able to get this gig because of a family friend, Randy Jeter. His home church is Calvary Baptist Church and since he was already a favorite there, he got to be the opening act for English and asked W.D. Hany to accompany him.

W.D. Hany claims to be lucky enough to always play in pleasant environments. It has no complaints about the places it performs. Before the band members started playing churches and coffee houses, they started out in small bars where they weren't initially accepted.

“We played at a biker bar once in Wheaton, and the audience arrived already inebriated and proceeded to get tongue-tied, stumbling, obnoxious, stupid, scary drunk. The ambulance came and took one unconscious customer to the emergency room. There was a prostitute that was taking men into the women's bathroom. We got screamed at by one patron for not playing any Doors songs. But most of the audience got into the music, and we made it out OK, and we got paid,” said Grove. They say that this type of experience is just something that comes with the territory.

They are currently practicing for The September 2005 Music Fest sponsored by the Baltimore Christian Music Connection. It is a regional festival held at the Carroll County Community College. The Music Fest helps support local Christian performers. “The last two years they brought in national performers to headline the event. This year they're going to headline it with one or two regionally well known acts. One of them is Unsearchable Riches,” Bassey said.

To be accepted into Music Fest a performer brings a recording of their music to a listening party held in March, and members of the organization vote for who gets to perform. In 2004 they had 30 performers vying for seven slots. “We're brand new to this organization so it's the first time we've tried to get into Music Fest.”

W.D. Hany views music on a deep level. It has an enormous meaning in their lives that they are able to express in words. “Music is incredibly powerful. It stirs us to pull hard-earned money out of our pockets and to have the ability to possess it and play it and experience it over and over and over again at our wills. It affects us very deeply, in so many areas of our psyches and personas, emotionally, socially, spirituality, developmentally, intellectually and financially,” Nielsen said.

Fan Debbie Brunson said, “They are going to do so well at the Music Fest because I have seen the power they have over the audience. They are captivating and I have the utmost faith in them.”

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