While audience members might leave the Astor Place Theatre after a performance giggling about the show's visual spectacles Ñ Twinkies cut in half by electric saws, or a man's head embedded in orange gelatin Ñ it is Blue Man's haunting music that stays in their gut. "Music has always been a big part of the show, the band has always been a big part of the show," said Seth Freed, an Astoria resident, who is the general manager of Blue Man Group Records. Since he took the job in 1999, Freed has overseen the release of Blue Man's first compact discs, "Audio," a Grammy-nominated recording that has sold a half-million copies, "The Complex," a concept album that features Dave Matthews and others, and a platinum-selling DVD entitled "The Complex Rock Tour Live." While some musical elements of the stage shows are evident on the CDs and DVD, Blue Man founders Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink, as well as Freed, saw the recordings as an opportunity to expand on the possibilities of the music. "Blue Man Group felt free to create a unique listening experience that was unburdened by the theatrical obligations of moving the plot of a live stage show forward," according to the group's Web site. Fans of the show may recognize "The PVC Instrument," which looks like a cross between a xylophone and a space-age pipe organ. Its unique sound is created when the blue men strike a series of polyvinyl chloride pipes with foam rubber paddles. Another favorite from the show featured on the "Audio" CD is the "Drumbone," called "a percussive spin-off of the trombone."About half of the music is sold at Blue Man theater venues in New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago and Berlin Ñ the rest is sold in record stores.Although he doesn't sing, read music or play a musical instrument, Freed, 34, displayed a keen interest in the music business very early in life. Born in Staten Island and raised in Stony Brook L.I., he spent hours and hours as a boy perusing his father Arthur's expansive record collection. But unlike most boys his age, Seth wasn't just interested in the artists Ñ The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Big Brother and the Holding Company, or Janis Joplin. He was also fascinated by what label released the record and who produced it. "I wanted to know who all these people were that made the record come to life," he said. "I wanted to know everything about the artist, but I was just as interested in the people behind the scenes."Freed pursued his interests to Oneonta State College in upstate New York, where he became a communications major with a minor in the music industry. At college he learned about recording and producing music as well as distribution, marketing and royalties. After internships at K-Tel and Artists Management, he landed his first job, working in the legal affairs and then promotions departments in a five-year-stint at Profile Records. He became a consultant for Bottom Line Records and worked for Razor & Tie, a record company based in Manhattan, before finally coming to Blue Man in December 1999.Having only seen the show once Ñ and with no history of a record division at Blue Man Ñ Freed's decision to sign on with the company was an act of faith. "I couldn't pick up the phone and call anyone to ask them what the job would be like because it didn't exist before," he said. Also risky was whether the recordings, absent of the powerful visual component, would achieve the same success as the critically acclaimed and sold out shows."I didn't expect that early in my career I would be working with three bald, blue guys banging on pipes," he said.""What I have learned it that the Blue Man characters speak to something that is noble and primitive in people. I think that the music captures that."Blue Man Group is performing at the Astor Place Theatre, 434 Lafayette St. in Manhattan. Showtimes are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at 8 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 10 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., 5 p.m., and 8 p.m. Throughout August there will be an additional performance on Mondays at 8 p.m.
©2004 Community News Group
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