Odds Bodkin Tells Love Stories at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

Down through the ages, certain stories have tried to capture the mysterious relationship between women and men––everything from Samson and Delilah to Antony and Cleopatra.  Plenty of lesser-known cultural attempts at capturing what trust and love mean are out there, too.

For Worlds Apart: Tales for Lovers, I’ve chosen two of my favorites from the lesser known side of folklore. A haunting, swelling musical theme on Celtic harp tuned to resemble a Japanese koto underlies The Crane Wife, the first tale in the final show of a series at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA this coming Sunday afternoon at 4:30 pm.

Osamu is a poor and lonely sail maker who can’t afford a wife. Living alone in his hillside hut above a salt grass marsh, he often sees the white cranes landing in the wind. He marvels at how it seems to be held in their wings. But when a fierce storm blows a white crane into his door, leaving it stunned, he sees one up close after he brings it inside, nursing it back to health. The bird’s black, shining eyes gaze up at him until he sets it free.

But the season of storms is not over, and a second tempest brings a frantic knocking on his door. Astonished to find a beautiful young woman standing there, soaked and shivering, he lets her in. The mysterious Yukiko will not tell him where she comes from, but she does not wish to leave, either, and so becomes Osamu’s wife.

All is well until they run out of food and she offers to weave him a magic sail to sell in the village, a sail that whispers wind itself and can propel a ship in calm air. Her one condition: never look at her as she works at the loom behind her privacy screen. At the heart of their relationship is her trust in him that he’ll never do it and look. Does he? Come see the show and find out what happens.

The second tale, The Dame Ragnell, originally written in the 14th Century, asks the universal question, “What does a woman desire most?” Sir Gromer, a dark knight who will kill King Arthur unless he can answer it, demands that the King solve it in a year’s time or die. Once he starts to think about it, Arthur falls into a depression. There are just too many answers. He has no clue.

Enter Sir Gawain, Arthur’s best friend and the handsomest of the Round Table men. He’s the most eligible bachelor at Camelot. The ladies-in-waiting have hot flashes as he walks by. They’re all in love with him.

Gawain laughs at the question and says, “I think it best to ask a woman, sire. Or many. We’ve got a year. Let us ride out and ask women everywhere what they desire most, even in foreign lands. Surely an answer will occur again and again. Tell that to Sir Gromer, my liege, and you’ll be free of this.”

Hopeful and excited, Arthur rides out in one direction with a book in which to write down the answers, and Gawain rides off in another. They interview thousands of women, of all classes, and write down their answers. But after the year is nearly out, Arthur and Gawain grow despondent. There are just too many answers. There isn’t one that stands out.

In three days Sir Gromer will cut off Arthur’s head  and Arthur’s code of honor obligates him to die––he’s given his word––unless he can answer the question. Alone, Arthur rides to the glade in Inglewood Forest where it all began and the most hideous woman Arthur has ever beheld appears on a fine pony. The Dame Ragnell knows the answer and will tell Arthur in time to save his life, but for a price. Sir Gawain must marry her of his own free will.

From there, the story becomes hilarious and very moving. Hope to see you there.

Tickets are here.

The Great Mother’s POV

How would you feel if Earth’s creation––mountains, sea and sky, all living things––were your work and you were Gaia, the original creator of it all? She was, at least according to the ancient Greeks. Gaia is the first of the Titans and she’s driven by Eros to create life constantly. She gives birth to the Twelve Titans, all of them perfect. But when she births six monsters, peace in the Titan family falls apart and launches a Game of Thrones-style conflict among generations. Sex, violence, betrayal and rebellion fill this vivid adult story from Greek mythology told from Gaia’s point of view.

Come hear Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin tell this wondrous and shocking tale at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA at 5:30 pm this coming Sunday, January 22nd. With character voices, a full score on 12-string guitar and fresh narration, Bodkin turns this little-known myth into a vivid imagination entertainment.

Adult storytelling. Not for children.

Bodkin’s first show at Grendel’s Den sold out, so grab your tickets now!

Fall of the Titans: The Original Game of Thrones

Truth or Dare: What Details Should I Include? It’s An Adult Audience, After All.

My text of Hesiod’s Theogony reads like this:

Great Ouranos came, bringing the night,
and spread out around Gaia, desiring philotês,
and was extended. His son reached out from ambush
with his left hand, and in his right he held the sickle,
long and serrated and the genitals of his father
he quickly reaped and threw them behind his back
to be carried away.

“Philotês” means a few things in ancient Greek––friendship, love and sexual intercourse. In this case, it’s definitely intercourse and I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. In this scene, Cronus, the last-born of Gaia’s Titan children, un-kings his father Ouranos to become king himself. Gaia, who’s at the center of my Fall of the Titans tale, is furious with Ouranos for having imprisoned her six latest babies. Ouranos is the Sky (Mother Earth/Father Sky) and has been her husband for eons. Gaia is the Earth. All along he’s been a proud father, having watched Gaia produce 12 perfect Titan children after having philotês with her.

But now that she’s given birth to three Cyclopses and three Hecatonchires (scary beasts with fifty heads) and Ouranos fears what they will become when they grow up, he’s made her angry for the first time. He’s dragged the baby monsters in chains down into Tartarus and locked them in giant prison cells. After this, Gaia decides she is done with Ouranos and wants him de-throned. Since kingliness and fertility were one and the same in the Bronze Age when this tale was set down, castration is the solution. Her ambitious son Cronus agrees to do it. Soon he becomes a paranoid king and since Phoebe, one of his older sisters and a prophetess, foresees that one of Cronus’ children will overthrow him, he eats them one by one as they’re born. Baby Hera, baby Poseidon, baby Demeter, baby Hades and others.

I have two Fall of the Titans shows coming up. I’ve told this story to young audiences in a sanitized, PG version (“Wound your father, so that he may no longer be king” is how I phrase it) but these two shows are for adults, one in Nashua, NH and the other in Cambridge, MA (see below for details). Of course, this is just one small moment in the epic tale itself, but a crucial one. It sets up all kinds of wild events, including the appearance of the Goddess of Love Aphrodite––the first of the Olympians––and a poignant moment later in the tale when Gaia is forced to visit her emasculated ex-husband and beg for his help.

So I’m still wrestling with this Lorena Bobbitt moment. Still not sure what I’ll do.

This coming Sunday night (Jan. 15) at 7:00 p.m. at the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire I’ll be telling this tale (tickets here) and once again at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA at 5:30 p.m. on January 22nd. Tickets here.

Wish me luck in telling FALL OF THE TITANS: THE ORIGINAL GAME OF THRONES.

FALL OF THE TITANS: THE ORIGINAL GAME OF THRONES/upcoming show in Nashua, NH

Along with Homer, the ancient Greek poet Hesiod essentially codified old spoken tales of the Olympian gods into the wondrously complex mythology we know today as the Greek myths. It’s good to bear in mind that in their day, these were deeply religious stories and the Greeks believed them as fact. Where had the Earth come from? What caused day and night? Who created the stars? How did the sea become salty? How did memory and prophecy enter the world? Why did weather change? What caused volcanoes to erupt?

Religions do this, each in their own way, even fossil religions like Greek pantheism, and so all these questions Hesiod tried to answer in his poem, The Theogony. “Theo” means deity and “gony” means “the birth of,” and so Hesiod’s “Birth of the Gods” covers all these topics and many more, all filtered, of course, through the mind of a brilliant man who lived circa 700 B.C.

Most folks know about the antics of Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo and the other gods as grownups, but far fewer know the tale of how they were born into a Game of Thrones-style family feud among their parents and grandparents–the Titans.

This coming Sunday, January 15th at 7:00 pm at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH, I’ll be telling my storyteller’s version of this wild old yarn. I call it FALL OF THE TITANS because after they created the Earth, the Titans did indeed fall. It has echoes of Moses in the reeds (Zeus is the hidden baby) and features gorgeous scenes of creation as well as sordid adult moments. If you don’t know this story, you’ll learn how the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was born. Be warned: it’s fairly chilling for most guys. Ambition, lust for power and child-devouring also play significant parts in this Bronze Age narrative.

This is an adult performance and not recommended for children under 13.

As usual, I’ll have my Celtic harp for background lore and my 12-string guitar for scoring the tale itself. I last told this tale in Boulder, CO to an adult audience and they had a great time, so I hope you’ll consider coming to the show. Tickets are $10 here.

2017 Adult Storytellings at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

Jan. 8: Odin and Thor Battle the Frost Giants: Viking Adventure Myths

Two epic Viking myths wrapped in little-known lore (Thursday is Thor’s Day; Wednesday is Wotan’s Day) told by Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin. First, Thor Meets the Frost Giants, a tale of magic and illusion as Thor and Loki journey to Utgard, capital city of their enemies. Then, The Mead of Poetry, the long tale of Odin’s search for the blood of his best friend who’s been murdered, his blood brewed into a wisdom-bestowing elixir. Told with 12-string guitar scores and Celtic harp musings, with character voices and vocal effects. Seating at 5:00 pm. Show begins at 5:30 pm.

 

Tickets $15 table seating, $10 bar seating. Get your tickets here. Continue reading “2017 Adult Storytellings at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA”

New Slow Bluegrass Tune by Odds Bodkin now at Odds’ Shop

I just put up a new tune, SOFT-HEARTED MEN IN THE GOOD OLD USA, at my online shop. It’s a sweet, relaxing piece of music featuring 12-string guitar, duo mandolins, bass and drums. Makes me think of the heartland when I listen to it. Here’s a sample:

 

$.99.  While you’re at my shop, check out the other instrumental pieces and, of course, the stories. For adults, my latest is BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, a 65-minute tale.

Happy Holidays!

Odds Bodkin

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

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!

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!

 

 

 

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!