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Forgiven plays with a whole lotta soul

April 26, 2000

Squeezed into the attic of a member's home, the members of Forgiven belt out songs of praise.

"This is Attica," jokes bass player Marty Shurnitski about the studio with sloped ceilings and green carpet.

cont. from lifestyle

There's plenty of energy in this small space.

Keyboardist Darryl Hughes' hands bounce on and off the keyboard while guitarist Steve Blackstock's head bounces to the beat of the drums tucked in a corner.

There's plenty of synergy, too, as the members have a common purpose.

"We want to give back what the Lord has given us," says Hughes, 39, of Hagerstown. "You just feel that you want to do something for the Lord."

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The players brought their jazz and blues backgrounds together just six months ago.

Hughes has been in secular bands with Shurnitski and is in a praise band with drummer Blake Gelwicks. Gelwicks has played contemporary Christian music with lead vocalist Larry Harnish.

All the group needed was a guitar player, which it found when Blackstock responded to a classified ad.

"God's opened the door for it," says Gelwicks, 47, of Hagerstown.

"We have the best agent in the world," adds Blackstock, whose cross-shaped earring is a reminder of who really guides the band.

The band has played at holiday banquets and churches and is open to doing wedding receptions and entertaining at outings.

Hopefully most gigs won't be as adventurous as a recent one at Joe's Coffeehouse in Baltimore, when the group was locked in the building because Joseph Palczynski was believed to be in the area. He was on the run after being accused of killing four people and kidnapping two others.

While they don't mind traveling to Baltimore or Washington, D.C. to perform, band members prefer to play in the Tri-State area so they don't have to stray too far from home.

"That interferes with the family thing," says Blackstock, 47, of Chambersburg, Pa.

Forgiven produced a demo tape of six original songs in the upper level of Hughes' house, where rehearsals happen every Wednesday night. There are hopes of releasing an album by the end of the year.

"We all collaborate" on the music, Hughes says.

Harnish, 42, of Greencastle, Pa., says he often comes up with lyrics while on the job as a courier for Federal Express. He'll write the words down when he gets a chance, then hums the melody all day so he won't forget it.

In addition to their own tunes, the group does some cover tunes from Audio Adrenaline, Big Tent Revival and dc Talk.

"We do an 'Amazing Grace' that'll knock your socks off," that features Blackstock on harmonica, says Shurnitski, 42, of Williamsport.

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