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Epic Hercules Performance in NH/Odds Bodkin/Sunday at 7pm

Intense, vivid storytelling for adults comes to the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH this coming Sunday night, June 25,  at 7 pm. Join Odds Bodkin and his 12-string guitar (and eat great food and enjoy drinks) for Hercules in Hell, Bodkin’s epic rendition of the Greek mythological hero’s life.

Upon hearing this story, a woman who’d never heard Bodkin commented after the show, “I was utterly mesmerized.” It’s fun imagination entertainment with a beautiful score on guitar and voices for Hercules, Hades, Persephone, and many others. Cinematic in scope. With plenty of humor, too.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

LISTEN AND EXPLORE! 14 Odds Bodkin Story Collections and Epics for $99! SUMMER SALE!

DISNEY IS GREAT, BUT WHERE’S THE IMAGINATION? (EXCEPT, OF COURSE, AT DISNEY)

ODDS BODKIN STORIES WITH CHARACTERS, SOUNDS AND MUSIC INVITE FAMILIES TO IMAGINE TOGETHER.

Little Proto’s T-Rex Adventure Listening Sample:

 

 

GET ALL THE AWARD-WINNING AUDIOS BELOW FOR ONLY $99. 

SAVE $74! 

DOWNLOAD THEM ANY TIME…

 

ADVENTURES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN

The Evergreens: Gentle Tales of Nature (3 & up)

The Teacup Fairy Collection (Very Old Tales for Very Young Children)

The Little Proto Trilogy (3 exciting dinosaur adventures with songs!)

Funny Folktales from Everywhere Collection

The Wise Girl Collection (stories for strong, smart girls)

Paul Bunyan Tall Tales Collection (hilarious American folklore)

The Winter Cherries Holiday Tales Collection (family Holidays favorites)

The Blossom Tree Collection: Tales from the Far East

 

AUDIO ADVENTURES FOR OLDER KIDS, TEENS AND ADULTS

David and Goliath: The Harper and the King (the great Bible story)

The Odyssey: An Epic Telling (4 hours!)

Giant’s Cauldron: Viking Myths of Adventure Collection

The Myth of Hercules (teens)

The Hidden Grail: Sir Percival and the Fisher King (a knights in armor adventure for teens)

Stories of Love Collection (teens and adults)

 

All Collections + Bundle

Teens and “The Cauldron of Stimulus”: A Storyteller’s View

From a recent Susanna Schrobsdorff Time article, Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright:

“If you wanted to create an environment to churn out really angsty people, we’ve done it,” says Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. Sure, parental micromanaging can be a factor, as can school stress, but Whitlock doesn’t think those things are the main drivers of this epidemic. “It’s that they’re in a cauldron of stimulus they can’t get away from, or don’t want to get away from, or don’t know how to get away from,” she says.

In my life I meet families all the time whose kids have grown up with my audio stories. At some point the parents found them in this wild, busy world and exposed their children to them during their formative years. For instance, I just met Stephanie from Pennsylvania, a great mom who invited me to perform there a couple of weeks ago. Afterwards she wrote me a kind letter, part of which said,

“I am proud that in our modern age, your stories played a large role in my children’s lives for several years. I can’t remember if I told you that for years we imitated the saluting bedbugs, or that we created an elaborate drip-sand castle and forest at the beach for the lovely Bargaglina after listening to The Little Shepherd on the way to Cape May Point. And of course you know about the Odyssey on the way to the Bay of Fundy. Your stories were such a gift to my kids’ development!”

So maybe part of the cure for kids going off the rails is mythic storytelling. Old tales, filled with the struggles of men and women who are long gone but whose stories tell us that yes, life is rugged and has its dark times, but heroes are people who overcome those obstacles because they never give up. People who are driven by love or honor or just the deep motivation to survive.

And that’s just the story part. The other healthful factor is imagination itself, the natural sort our minds are capable of. When we imagine, endorphins are released into the bloodstream, much like a runner’s high. The cerebral cortex lights up like a fire, drawing on memories and feelings from deep inside, rather than stimulus from that social media cauldron beyond ourselves. It’s a creative act, and quite refreshing. Imagination in childhood becomes creativity in adulthood, and we live in times when creativity and adaptability are premium skills. If there’s one thing young people can count on in their futures these days, it’s rapid change. Unpredictable change.

For younger kids, fairytales operate in the same beneficial way. The Little Shepherd is one I just performed for three hundred K-2 public school kids last week. For twenty-five minutes they sat, still and quiet, for this longest story in the show, all of them lost in fantasy. What’s the value of that? Well, as Bruno Bettelheim wrote in The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairytales, “While the fantasy is unreal, the good feelings it gives us about ourselves and our future are real, and these good feelings are what we need to sustain us.”

HERCULES IN HELL/Odds Bodkin in Nashua, NH Sunday June 25th at 7 pm/Mythology Intro on Celtic Harp

Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will perform Hercules in Hell, an epic story for adults, at the Riverwalk Music Bar this coming Sunday. Scored with 12-string guitar and introduced with a Celtic harp accompaniment, this is the myth of Hercules as few have heard it. His teenage rages and teacher murders. How he loses his mind and kills his wife and children. The only escape from his guilt the gods offer? Twelve Labors, done for a despised and weak cousin who orders Hercules to kill the Hydra, capture a stag only the virgin goddess of the hunt may touch, drive off giant birds with brass feathers, on and on. Greek mythology for grownups.

Performed with character voices and vocal effects, this is pure imagination entertainment.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Get them here.

ODDS BODKIN SUMMER SALE #1: The Odyssey: An Epic Telling/50% Off

Hi. I’m Odds Bodkin, author, musician and professional storyteller. Along with performing at thousands of schools and universities, for over three decades I’ve also recorded classic tales with music and characters to inspire listeners of all ages. From heroic myths to nature folktales drawn from many lands, all include original music I play live on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and other instruments. It’s storytelling with heart, a kind of art you’ll never forget. This summer, I invite you to discover it.

This week’s summer sale at my online download shop is The Odyssey: An Epic Telling. It’s 4 hours of Greek mythology and vivid adventure. Regular price: $49.95. This week only it’s on sale for $24.95 here, from June 18 to June 25. Check out the audio sample and see if you’re not fascinated. Families love listening to it on road trips. Get yours today and enjoy! Share the sale with friends, too!

 

Free Public Performance in Media, PA June 3rd

Bring a picnic and the kids to Glen Providence Park in Media, PA this coming Saturday evening at 5 pm for a free public performance of A FAMILY STORIES EXTRAVAGANZA. I’ll be there with my Celtic harp and 12-string and will offer four fun stories, filled with music that will put you and your kids in a happy, imaginative mood.

I’ll be telling The Name of the Tree from Africa, The Tale of the Kittens from Italy, The Elf of Springtime from Sweden and Finn MacCool and the Big Man from Ireland.

And I’ll be playing my harp as the audience arrives and settles in.

If it rains, Sunday June 4th is the rain date.

Thanks to Stephanie Gaboriault and Friends of Glen Providence Park!

 

Weapons from the Sky

2,400 years ago, give or take a century or two, storytellers in ancient India described the use of strange weapons. One that’s particularly memorable is an arrow shot into the sky that explodes into thousands of spinning discs, their edges sharp as razors. This cloud of discs is designed to plunge down onto enemy ranks, killing everybody standing there.

 
Reminds me of modern “cluster bombs,” weapons looked down upon by modern conventions of war (supposedly), which explode above the ground and release “bomblets” that rain down upon enemy ranks, blowing whoever is down there into tiny pieces. Children in war-torn lands all over the world are still picking up unexploded bomblets from such munitions, thinking they’re toys, consequently losing their limbs or more often their lives.

 
In the ancient Indian case of these “mantra” weapons, or “spell” weapons, they’re described in The Mahabharata, one of the two great informing Sanskrit poems of India, the root stories of Hinduism. Arjuna, the legendary archer in this ancient story, knew many such mantric weapons, and used them on the battlefield. As an aside, he also spent time transformed into a woman during his and his brothers’ exile, along with their wife, their eldest brother having gambled away all their status and fortunes in a game of dice.

 
Yudisthira at Heaven’s Gate, one of the tales I’ll be telling this coming Sunday evening at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire at 7 pm, comes from The Mahabharata. This particular story doesn’t include any war scenes, but does probe human virtue, as do all the hundreds of sub-stories in this old epic, the war stories included.

 
Interestingly, in the scene with the spinning razor discs, there’s actually a defense against them. When the opposing general looks up and sees what’s coming, he yells from his chariot to all his warriors, “Stand absolutely still. Drop your weapons. Think only of peace.”
The razor discs thunk into the ground among them, missing them all.

 
Tickets for the show are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. You can get them here.

Absolutely Gushing

The highest hilltop in Greenwich, Connecticut is the location of Sacred Heart, a fine school for girls. On the sunny day I was there last week, Long Island Sound was visible in the distance. In the school’s big empty auditorium, as I warmed up my 12-string guitar to perform The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast, the doors were open. The PA was blasting and the music was lyrical, and as I played onstage I noticed girls peering in from the hall to listen. It takes me a half hour of playing to ready my hands for the seventy-minute story, and whoever’s in earshot gets to listen. They smiled and waved and I waved back. Sacred Heart School enrolls elementary through high school girls, and I’d been told by Megan, the English teacher who’d brought me in, who I’d not met before, to expect 5th and 9th graders. 5th was studying Greek mythology. 9th was reading The Odyssey.

 

So to give them something to listen to as they filed in, I decided to play them an overture. It’s a free-flowing exploration of my story’s musical leitmotifs. The 5th and 9th graders sat, but then other grades began to arrive. 4th graders, I found out later during the Q&A, 7th graders, and others. The auditorium kept filling up, which was fine with me, of course. I think it was the music’s Siren Song that wooed them in. That and a very civilized faculty willing to let them go, I suspect.

 

Afterwards I drove home on the Merritt Parkway in rush hour traffic and arrived back in New Hampshire five hours later, somewhat bedraggled and too tired to wonder how the show went. The next morning I received this email. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if things go well. That afternoon, I think things did.

Dear Odds, 

This morning all of the students arrived to school absolutely gushing about yesterday’s performance. In my classes this morning, all the girls wanted to discuss the wonder of the performance. We were all absolutely captivated. It was a magical and transportive experience. Thank you so much for giving us such a gift. We hope you will be able to visit us again. 

Kind Regards,
Megan Monaghan

 

Megan gave me permission to share her letter. Reactions like this remind me of why I got into this business, and I’m still in it, enjoying every rarefied moment. It’s an aesthetic delight for me, and kids never forget this show. If you know anyone who’d like to invite me to tell The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast at any elementary, middle school, high school or university, send them to this link. Kids don’t forget it. Why? Because their Muse has been summoned. It shocks them, since often it’s the first time they discover they’ve got one.

12-String Guitar Sitar Mimicry

I first heard a sitar played on the Beatles’ Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. My next encounter was at the famous Woodstock Festival, where Ravi Shankar, the greatest of Indian sitarists, was performing (see photo). It was 1969 and I was sixteen, traveling with a friend. We were slung with sleeping bags and backpacks full of Pop Tarts.

 

Ragas, the classical sitar-driven musical forms Shankar played, are vibratory states of resonating beauty. They don’t do much with Western harmony, relying instead on wondrous melodies run above a scintilant sonic drone created by santoor and harmonium, flowed along with tabla drums.

 
As a 12-string guitar composer, I’ve spent no few years trying to evoke ragas on my instrument to accompany my stories from India. You can come hear some of that music on two 12-strings, along with some pretty cool stories from India, this coming Sunday May 28th at 7:00 pm, at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. If you know anyone who might enjoy such an experience, please let them know. Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Get them here.

If You Know Any Librarians in New England…

In my storytelling shows for kids, I always end with a “showstopper” story. That’s one with a song I teach them to sing. Simple phrases. Melodies that stick in kids’ minds so well that for days afterwards, teachers tell me, students sing them in the halls. Rhythms, too, and I mean clap-along or even stomp-on-the-floor beats. This is some of my best material for K-5th graders.

 

So if you know any librarians in New England, pass along the word to them that for this summer I’m offering a special show of nothing but showstopper stories. Three of them in a row, something I’ve never offered before. It’s called AN EXTRAVAGANZA OF FAMILY TALES WITH FUNNY SONGS IN EVERY ONE.

 

Since it’s for libraries, I’m making it extra affordable. Anyone can inquire about it at my web site here.

 

Sitar-Tuned Tales from India at The Riverwalk

What’s The Mahabharata? It’s the Hindu Bible, one of the two great epic Sanskrit poems of India that tell tales of the Vedic gods and ancient human heroes. Over three thousand years old, it’s a vast, long story with hundreds of smaller tales hung along it like pearls on a necklace. For my upcoming show at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH on Sunday May 28th at 7 pm, I’ll be telling a few. Tickets are $10 here.

 
What you’ll really enjoy I hope, along with the vivid characters, is the two 12-string guitars I’ll alternate playing as I tell, each tuned to sound like classical Indian sitar music. I first heard a sitar when I was sixteen at Woodstock in 1969. Ravi Shankar was playing as my friend Tom and I arrived at the festival with the throngs. I fell in love with the sitar that night, and own one now. In honor of Indian classical music, I’ve done my best to develop ragas played on guitar. It’s a fulsome, wondrous sound.

 
I hope you’ll come and enjoy these stories. Powerful and beautiful, they are from an ancient time and you’ll be amazed how startling they are. You’ll even meet fire-born Draupadi, she with five husbands, all of whom are brothers…

Kids in the Treetops

I was about eighty feet in the sky. Up here, the tulip tree’s two giant trunks, which split off from each other about twelve feet from the ground from a single bole, were only a couple of inches thick, still growing. Around me were big, mitten-shaped leaves and bursting tulips, orange and green. Not really tulips as you might know them, but flowers anyway, the amazing blooms of liriodendron tulipifera, a term I didn’t learn until much later. At the moment I was nine years old, having climbed my favorite tree with Andy McKemie, a kid my age. This was Virginia in 1962.

 
We both knew not to climb any higher. This was the perfect place to rock the two treetops, flexible as they were this high up. The tulip tree towered above all others in the woods by the creek. We could see the old house on the hilltop in its abandoned, dilapidated glory. The meadows, too. At least today, the feral horses that lived in the untended barn and grazed the grass around the collapsed chicken coops weren’t chasing us off. In the old house we’d found blue ribbons from horse races long ago. Somebody had left the property in a sad hurry. I’ve never looked into who the family was.

 
My parents had no idea I’d learned to do this. All we kids had. There were no limbs close to the ground around the trunk in the clearing. To get up there, we tossed a rope tied around a thick stick over the lowest bough, sat on it and hauled ourselves up. From there, once we’d pulled up the rope so no kids from Jefferson Manor could follow us, it was an easy climb along the dusty, evenly distributed limbs to the top of the tulip tree.

 
Andy’s perch on the twin crown was about ten feet from mine. “You ready?” I probably said, since we both knew what we were about to do. He probably said, “Sure,” and we both pulled back, bending our treetops away from each other, then, like kids do on swings, we rocked forward, working our swings to eventually pass each other, getting those green twin treetops to bend back and forth.

 
By the time we were done with this game, the exhilaration was always worth the climb. I guess if someone had had a drone with a camera, hovering above us, it would have captured two little boys, laughing and swinging two treetops past each other in deep arcs, better than a ride at the carnival. Wind. Light. Trust in the tree and in our hands.

 
The reason I bring up this true story is that here in Bradford, New Hampshire, far north of their normal range, I’ve planted two tulip trees my sister Lindsay gave me as tiny saplings four years ago in my back yard. She lives in Maryland. They’re budding again, one of them now a head taller than me.

 
Hopefully, long after I’m gone, they’ll be eighty feet tall, too, helping to replace the forest of red and white oaks, pines and sugar maples that currently surround my home. The poplars have survived thus far. The climate’s changing. Remember the chestnuts. Things come and go.