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Odds Bodkin Stories Worldwide

Two recent download purchases at my digital store have come from Krackow, Poland and Beijing, China. That’s very interesting to me. Even in these far flung (at least from America) locations, people out there know the value of intelligent listening for their children. And themselves.

They know, as a mom who wrote me recently stated, “Thank you for writing about tough topics but remembering that humor is important, too. Thank you for being someone my kids could use to help explain the world but never told them what to think. Thank you for talking about doing the right thing, even if it is hard, but never beating anyone over the head with the morality.”

In all the lines in her lengthy letter here, those three sentences meant the most to me.

Visit the shop and buy some MAGIC COINS as a gift for kids or adults. Recipients can visit and choose which titles they like at their convenience. Latest new releases include Strings in the Clouds, a calming 6-minute composition on Celtic harp and strings. Good music to listen to while working on complicated things.

Thanks for listening!

Odds Bodkin

Beowulf: The Only One is coming out on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24th, 2016, American time zone. I have no idea what time that is in Beijing or Krakow, but I hope those customers enjoy it, too!

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Audio Thanksgiving Day Release

Beowulf: The Only One
A New Bardic Telling with 12-String Guitar

Odds Bodkin’s new 65-minute bardic telling of the oldest story in the English language will be available at http://www.oddsbodkin.net/shop/ on Thanksgiving Day. Employing a cinema-like score on 12-string guitar, human characters and monstrous voices, the audio tells a tale of gratitude and simple courage in the face of ancient evils.

Beowulf: The Only One is gruesome in places and filled with vivid details of old Viking life. Unlike recent Hollywood versions of the tale, the audio closely follows the original poem’s story, from the monster Grendel’s first attacks on Hrothgar’s mead hall to Beowulf’s battle with the Fire Dragon fifty years later.

The story includes frank violence. Not recommended for listeners under 12.

This recording joins Bodkin’s collection of epic tales for older children, teens and adults that includes The Odyssey, David and Goliath, The Hidden Grail and The Myth of Hercules, all available as mp3 audios at www.oddsbodkin.net.

The download will be available for $14.95 using PayPal.

Wednesday Nov. 9th in Boulder, CO: StoryEarth Debut Performance!

Have you ever heard of a performance that combines live storytelling of earth myths with multimedia and provocative new philosophy? Philosophy that tackles the challenge scientists face in telling the true story of climate change? If you haven’t, we’re not surprised, but nothing like StoryEarth has been done before and we want you there.

With Gaia theorist, scientist and naturalist Martin Ogle, I’ll be in Boulder, CO this coming Wednesday night to swap center stage back and forth, moving between ancient story and modern science. Why? To engage the audience (and a further ongoing conversation on Facebook here) with the question: “Do our ancient beliefs about our and earth’s origins serve us any longer?” Yes, it’s controversial, but then again, how humans envision our place in Nature determines how we treat it. Considering global weather, one could say that the Earth is annoyed with us these days. Everyone sees it. Mass migrations have begun as people flee drying regions.  Sea levels are rising. Storms are dumping unprecedented amounts of rain on places that used to be safe.

Serious as the topic is, the show is also going to be highly entertaining. I’ll be performing The Elf of Springtime on Celtic harp and Fall of the Titans, an epic piece with giant voices and a full score on 12-string guitar. And the event will be emceed by Kendra Krueger, nano-materials scientist and Colorado public radio personality.

Even if you’re not in Colorado, if you have friends in Boulder, Denver or nearby places, please share this blog post with them. If they go, I’ll bet they get back to you, excited at what took place.

StoryEarth and is sponsored by the Parent Engagement Network and Entrepreneurial Earth. Tickets @ $15 general admission and $12 for students are available at: http://www.parentengagementnetwork.org/odds-bodkin

The Love Gift of Stories

Is your child or grandchild a good imaginer?

Build your child’s imagination away from the screen now. Save $74 on Odds Bodkin’s amazing audio stories with music from world cultures. 10 classic story collections plus epics––The Myth of Hercules, The Hidden Grail, David and Goliath and the 4-hour Odyssey! All for $99.

Coming soon! BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE. A heroic tale brought to life in spoken word and music.

If you know Odds Bodkin’s works, share with a friend! Buy now and download any time. All titles available individually as well.

All Collections + Bundle

 

 

TALES OF THE LAND! A Family Concert in Lafayette, CO on Nov. 2

Driving 12-string guitar music, rhythmic and elemental, joins the sound of a hammer striking rock to open Tales of the Land, a public family performance at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, Colorado on Nov. 2 at 6:30 pm. The first of four stories, this is a Japanese samurai tale, The Stonecutter. Enabled with powers of Nature, a human being misuses them, bringing droughts and floods to a helpless Earth.

Next, a tale from Africa. Hungry and thirsty animals stare up a giant tree at fruits filled with food and water. Only when the tree’s name is spoken will it drop its precious fruits. But remembering the name proves difficult for many animals who try. Told with African thumb piano, hilarious voices and water droplet sound effects, The Name of the Tree is one of my best family stories ever.

Next, I’ll bring out a Celtic harp leant to me for my Colorado tour by Dave Kolacny of Kolacny Music in Denver. Thanks, Dave! Always generous over my years of visiting the Front Range. The story is about Kelsa, a young woman who refuses to work with flax to make linen. It smells terrible when soaked and Kelsa can’t standing spinning. But when the Queen is misinformed––believing that Kelsa loves to spin––Kelsa’s head is on the line unless she can do it. That’s when the three strangest looking beings she’s ever seen appear in a beam of moonlight. Lush, fun harp music combined with crazy funny voices will have you laughing at The Full Moon Spinners.

For the finale, the most outrageous of all my participatory tales, Finn MacCool and the Big Man. It’s so much fun to play the Irish rhythms in this story on 12-string, mostly because the audience gets the beat right away and joins in. Not only that, they learn a crazy chant that we all roar out as Finn, his wife Una and Gall the Hairiest Fenian outwit the biggest man any of them have ever seen.

Tales of the Land is sponsored by Martin Ogle of Entrepreneurial Earth and the Parent Engagement Network.

There is no child who won’t have a great time at this show, not to mention a whole lot of bemused parents, especially with the magical lanterns that will fill the auditorium. If you’re out in the Denver area, mark your calendar! Tell your friends. This is a very special show!

Tickets are $10 or $39 for families (4-6 family members) and you can get them here.

DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL public performance Oct. 29

I don’t tell them often, these three stories. They’re just too unsettling. Still, for Halloween? The Storm Breeder, a New England ghost story, is about an angry man who goes up against Nature and pays an eternal price. The Panther Boys from China is a lycanthropy tale (think werewolves) that pits enchanted sons against their own father. Treasure Trove from Russia is like a wild Twilight Zone story where a greedy fool dons the skin of the Devil to scare an old man into giving up some gold. He regrets that.

Or, if there are too many young kids in the crowd, I’ll go with less graphic tales. I’ll just have to wait and see. DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL is coming Saturday, October 29th at 5:00 p.m. to the Town Hall in Warner, New Hampshire.

The stories are told with music on 12-string guitars and alto recorder. Lots of voices. Lots of really wild vocal effects, too.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Hope you can make it!

The Most Astonishing, Smart and Beautiful Letter I’ve Ever Received from a Mother

This post came in yesterday on Facebook from Valorie Gamer Osterman.

Thanks, Valorie!

 

Dear Odds,

Forgive me while I faint. My daughter is home visiting, and I just told her you had written me. The house is ringing with her squeals of joy! We are a family who treats you as a rock star, stalking your schedule, pouncing upon new recordings, and checking the internet for news of you. Living in Seattle, we lived too far away to enjoy a live performance but now my eldest is at Eastman School of Music so once again, we are stalking your schedule to make it to a live performance.

I did not write the article but feel free to quote my comments about it. The article was written by Diane Levin of Wheelock College in Boston.

Music is important but humans fought to speak for a reason. Music may move the soul but stories create and shape the soul. Music moves the emotions but stories help us understand them. Storytelling is a rare skill these days with so much TV and radio being formulaic rather than original. Finding those who can still tell a story is a rare find. Finding those who can tell a good story AND make great music is priceless!

You are, indeed, an enduring legacy in my household. “Drip, drip, drip” is often used as the punchline in a family story to denote that it is one to remember and share. In the transition from audio cassette to CD, we had to forgo many of the stories because I could no longer find copies. When my then 16-year-old daughter saw a tape-to-mp3 converter, her first thought was to find your old stories so we could listen again. When I saw you were going to debut “Beowulf” on the East Coast, I encouraged all my NY/MA friends to come but when I said I was going to buy a copy, my kids insisted I had to wait until Christmas so we could all listen together. My eldest will be 25 so I think that means we’ve been listening to you for 22 years at this point!

We are a very plugged-in family and never far from electronics and screens. I credit our car rides filled with stories from you and Jim French Productions for a large reason why my kids never turned on their walkmans/ipods/laptops in the car. It wasn’t just the stories, it was the situations and characters you brought to life. Unlike most music, the stories you tell invite conversation, discussion, and analysis so as we drove from school to sports to drama to dinner to dance and finally home, we listened and, more importantly, we talked. As the kids got into the car, I’d ask “Talk, stories, or music?” If a kid had a long day, a few stories would rejuvenate them and they’d start to tell me about their day.

It’s those conversations that were the play in their minds. Not only did the stories engage their minds in ways books and screens didn’t, they presented the option of stopping the story, talking about some aspect of it – often in the context of something they’d learned or were experiencing – and then listening to the rest of the story. Given the wide range of stories you tell, we could always find connections between what was going on in our lives with some character or situation in one of your stories. Sometimes when a kid was wrestling with something, they’d pick a story they wanted to hear, stop the story somewhere, then talk about what was bothering them.

So, thank you. Thank you for years of stories and coming back to give us new ones. Thank you for writing about tough topics but remembering that humor is important, too. Thank you for being someone my kids could use to help explain the world but never told them what to think. Thank you for talking about doing the right thing, even if it is hard, but never beating anyone over the head with the morality. Most importantly, thank you for providing a role model for my kids that storytelling is just as important today in our era of smart screens as it was when we lived in caves. At one point when one of my kids and I were just irritated with each other, they suggested we go for a car ride and listen to some stories. An hour later, we came back talking again and laughing.

Mission accomplished, sir. Mission accomplished.

Sincerely,
Valorie
————

Artist’s Note: Valorie proceeded to purchase a $99 All Collections Bundle at our download store. Bless her heart. I hope to meet her someday. And her kids.

TALES OF THE MOON at the Peabody Essex Museum on 10/15

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, known as the PEM, is one of the finest mid-sized museums in the world, and this October 15th, for their Lunar Imaginings Opening Day Festival, I’ll be in Morse Auditorium at 11:00 a.m. with a very special show, Tales of the Moon.

The Twenty-Seven Wives of the Moon is a Hindu tale of how Soma, the Moon, asks Daksha, a powerful god and sage, to marry twenty-seven of his beloved daughters. “Twenty-seven wives?” Daksha responds, dubious Soma can treat each one equally. Soma insists he can do it, and what follows involves Ganesha, the Elephant-Headed God, Shiva the Destroyer and his wife, Parvati, and a host of other gods. Not to mention twenty-six angry wives. How it all works out, and how Soma survives to ride his chariot past the twenty-seven mansions of the stars is the tale itself, and in places is hilarious. I perform it with a sitar-tuned 12-string guitar and voices.

Spinners of the Moon is from Germany and is even funnier. It’s a Grimm’s fairy tale told with Celtic harp about Kelsa, who hates to spin. In fact, she hates everything about flax and the linen that comes from it, in a very smelly process. Never having learned, she’s grabbed by the Queen with the promise that if she can spin a dungeon of raw flax into linen thread in three days, she’ll marry the prince, but if she fails, she’ll lose her head. Kelsa despairs until three of the strangest looking beings–a young woman, a mother, and a crone–appear in the full moon’s light and offer to spin it all if she makes them a promise. Each has an outsized bodily feature connected to spinning. The outcome is very funny, especially when the prince meets them.

The last tale, told with alto recorder, is The Monkeys and the Moon from Tibet. It’s a parable about what happens when we follow a bad leader. Considering the election, it will hit home. In a non-partisan way, of course.

Plus I’ll add all manner of lunar lore to fill things out.

Come enjoy the show!

 

 

 

The Young Imaginers

What makes modern kids intelligent and adaptable in such a rapidly changing world? What is a critical factor in the educational system that gets short shrift? I think it’s teaching kids to imagine, as a basic skill. Learning numbers is necessary, and we all need to learn them, but considering the amount of cheating going on––web assisted, in colleges across America––I would humbly submit that these cheating kids do so because they’re unappreciative of the hard work of learning, and the reason that learning is such hard work for them is because digital life has robbed them of something.

Native human imagination.

It doesn’t happen on a screen, but within the brain itself. The true nature of intelligence––the human ability to look around at the world, see what needs to be done for survival and imagine solutions––includes the inventiveness to make the inventions themselves that solve the problems. Even if those inventions are not machines or technology, but social processes.

Learning theories abound out there. Once long ago, during a Door to Imagination Workshop I was offering, a woman educator sat back, rather startled, and said, “What you’ve described here is a genuine learning theory.” I’ve never forgotten that. She was right, I think, in that the simple act of imagining builds neural nets in kids’ brains. It doesn’t really matter what they’re imagining, as long as they’re tapping this hidden gift they’ve all been born with. Imagination in childhood becomes creativity in adulthood. And vision. And drive. The stories don’t matter. The neural activity is what matters.

I’ve been in the business of telling stories to kids since 1982. It’s not that I’m trying to use fairytales, myths and legends to convince kids that those old stories are real, because they’re not, although they all carry ethical lessons. No, it’s because I know that archetypal stories carry a pulse that’s ancient and strong enough to get modern, digitally-distracted kids to imagine them in the first place.

Not by watching.

By listening.

When kids imagine, their brains light up, according to PET scans. The learning theory is to forge new, underutilized, under-myelinized neural connections to build their basic intelligence structures. Wasn’t there some presidential election where “the vision thing” was an issue?

It doesn’t matter what the kids become in life when they grow up. It’s how they approach whatever they become imaginatively, so they can run clear-eyed scenarios for their futures, take stock of what’s going on around them (we are in unique times, I must say) and use their creative minds to fix the problems and survive.

To explore samples of how this learning theory works, I invite you to visit the new www.oddsbodkin.net and purchase storytelling audios that appeal to you. I get letters from twenty-somethings all the time who grew up with my stories. Out of the blue they email me, thanking me for being turned into imaginers.

Maybe we can’t smell as well as dogs, but we can paint mind pictures across our potential futures. Dogs can’t do that. Nor, as far as we know, can any of the other beasts with whom we share our fragile, biologically crafted Earth.

That’s our burden as the supposedly smart ones, we humans.

Odds Bodkin

Odds Bodkin’s THE ILIAD:BOOK I Live Performance Video

Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts is a fine private high school on a hill, and I was privileged to appear there recently before the entire student body one morning. Invited to perform one of my favorite pieces for high school and university audiences, The Iliad: Book I, I had a great time. Along with my long-form telling of The Odyssey (available at my download shop), it’s my homage to Homer. Loving his epics as I do, and wishing that many more young people read them for their timeless messages, I modernize these ancient tales as audios with character voices, music and accessible English.

Only this time, the show was captured on video. Jay Sharron, Cushing’s Media Production Coordinator, shot the performance before a live audience.

It’s now available in four parts as a 322 mb download, mobile quality video.

Find it here!

 

THE MONSTER’S VOICE/Beowulf:The Only One

Beowulf, the oldest known work of English literature, is about a man fighting monsters. Beowulf fights three of them over the course of the story. The first is Grendel, an ancient demon who is terrorizing the Viking Danes. Since he has no powers of speech, to create a character voice for Grendel took some experimenting, but in this prototype recording of Beowulf: The Only One, my hour-long audio story coming out later this fall, you can hear Grendel growl a few times and catch a whiff of his theme music. He’s a beast.
Enjoy.

 

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE/12-string guitar music

For Beowulf: The Only One, I play a 12-string guitar with a pick in a modified open E flat tuning. I’ve been devising music in this rare tuning for years now, and if you play the guitar, six or twelve, you’ll find that if you play a C chord in concert tuning (regular tuning) on my guitar, you’ll get a horrible sound. Same thing with every other regular chord. That’s because the fingerings in this tuning are unique to it, and the only way to find them is through exploration.

 
I’ve always thought of 12-string guitars as starships. For storytelling at least, they’re like a vehicle you can get in and take off with, traveling through interstellar clouds of moods. For Beowulf: The Only One, I’ve developed themes that I hope convey the scary beauty of this story. The Beowulf Theme, for instance, embodies the pathos of both the hero and his war-ravaged world. But it also contains hope, at least in Beowulf’s presence, otherwise the story is a pretty dark vision. Hope springs eternal. Still, nothing in human affairs has changed much since the times of Beowulf, other than technology, at least in this storyteller’s opinion.

 
Here’s rough-cut of Beowulf’s Theme:

 

 

 

I hope you enjoy it.

 

To find out about all my storytelling recordings with music, visit www.oddsbodkin.net.

Odds Bodkin