Digital frontier - International band records album without meeting

April 01, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

They've recorded about 30 songs, produced a CD and have a recent hit online - all without leaving their homes or meeting in person.

They're not even sure they ever will meet.

They are Project-43, five men from around the world whose ages average 43. They met through an online discussion forum about guitars.

Their classic rock songs have a modern twist usually start with Steve Mann or Charlie Wardick recording the backbone of a song. They e-mail a music file to other band members, who use software at their homes to record their parts and e-mail them back to Mann, who mixes the recordings into the finished compositions.

"It's a unique concept, and that's what attracted me," said Christopher Bell-Boudreaux, 42, one of the lead guitarists. Bell-Boudreaux is billed as bringing New York City guitar styles to the group, though he's lived in Hagerstown the last 15 years.


The band's other members are vocalist and bass player Antti "DeeAa" Heikkinen of Finland; drummer Scott Wallace of Scotland; guitarist, bassist and background vocalist Wardick of Arizona and rhythm and lead guitarist, keyboardist and background vocalist Mann, who lives in Pewaukee, Wis.

Mann and Wardick met more than two years ago in the online newsgroup and started passing music files of their own creation back and forth. Then they began building on each other's parts.

Heikkinen joined in, then Wallace, and finally Bell-Boudreaux last year. Bell-Boudreaux has served as a sounding board for Mann early on.

Project-43 issued its first CD, "Silence the Quiet," in February and had a newer song, "First Strike," which reached as high as No. 2 on SoundClick's indie chart. SoundClick ( is a music Web site that features signed and unsigned bands.

The band has had seven songs in the top 10 of various SoundClick charts with "Turning Circles" hitting No. 1, band members said.

"I'm surprised by the feedback we're getting," said Mann, 45. The band has received media attention in the U.S. and Europe, including being featured on a Chicago radio show and in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Members performed in regional bands in the 1980s and stopped performing to start families and careers, Bell-Boudreaux said.

Being an Internet band allows the members to record music at their own pace in their comfort zones without the troubles of touring.

Bell-Boudreaux thinks Internet bands will be commonplace in five to 10 years. They might especially be attractive outlets for musicians who don't have the time to go on tour.

Bell-Boudreaux also is a member of the Freddie Long Band, which plays in regional venues and festivals.

Playing with the Freddie Long Band brings Bell-Boudreaux the satisfaction of performing live before an audience.

The Freddie Long Band's tagline is "a T-shirt and jeans blend of pop, rock, soul and honesty." In addition to live performances, the band formed by Ijamsville, Md., resident Long seeks conventional radio airtime, Bell-Boudreaux said.

The local band also issued a CD in February, "Strangers and Friends." It's not the band's first CD, but the first with Bell-Boudreaux in the band.

Bell-Boudreaux isn't sure about Project-43's future.

"I'm very excited about our prospects, because I think what we're doing is unique."

While Bell-Boudreaux said he doesn't see the band members ever actually meeting, Mann won't rule that out.

"Everybody kind of has a different take on that. It'd be cool to get together and vacation," said Mann, 45, an information technology administrator.

Bell-Boudreaux also is an information technician with Sierra Nevada at Hagerstown Regional Airport. He lives with his wife, Lelia Boudreaux, a pen and ink artist, near the South End.

Bell-Boudreaux's passion is his art, whether it's music or movies. He portrayed a shady pawn shop salesman in the 2005 independent film "Thunder and Hurricane."

"When the smoke clears and it's my dying day, I want to look up on my shelf and see - these are the CDs I made, these are the movies I made. Not just work. I was an artist," Bell-Boudreaux said.

For your listening pleasure ...

· Project-43's "Silence the Quiet" is available at iTunes for $9.90 and at and for $8.99.

To learn more about the band and listen to samples of their music, go to

· Freddie Long Band's "Strangers and Friends" is available at iTunes and for $9.99 and at for $10. The CD also is sold at Record and Tape Trader in Frederick, Md., and at Borders in Hagerstown and Frederick.

·To learn more about the band, listen to some of its music and find upcoming gigs, go to

· To learn more about Christopher Bell-Boudreaux, go to

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