ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS/Adult Storytelling April 1st at The Riverwalk Music Bar, 7 p.m.

ODIN AND THOR BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS/Adult Storytelling April 1st at The Riverwalk Music Bar, 7 p.m.

“April Fools!”

Those aren’t the Frost Giant King’s words to Thor and Loki, but they easily could be, considering how he fools the two Viking gods into thinking they’re not nearly as powerful as they really are.

You can hear Thor’s Journey to Utgard on April 1, 2018, along with Norse lore on Celtic harp and a second powerful myth, The Mead of Poetry. Both tales are accompanied with Odds Bodkin’s thunderous 12-string guitar.

A full evening of adult storytelling entertainment.

Get your tickets here.



Sunday night I was down in Cambridge at Grendel’s Den warming up my harp and 12-string onstage for a telling of Beowulf when a tall gentleman with silver hair came over, looking somewhat shy. The place was full and new faces were in the audience. Along with the usual crew of fine fans, Harvard students and curious twenty-somethings, I’d noticed husbands and wives in their fifties or early sixties at the tables. Obviously this gentleman had something to say. I stopped playing and smiled at him.

“Am I interrupting you?” he asked. He was fit and had a nice smile.

“No, not at all. I’m just warming up. Good evening.”

“Good evening,” he replied and we shook hands.

“I just wanted to tell you, Mr. Bodkin, that you saved us from Baby Beluga,” he said in a sort of admiring seriousness. It didn’t take too long for me to process that, and so I smiled wryly and chuckled, suspecting I knew what he was saying. He went on. “My kids are in their thirties now and are jealous they can’t be here.”

“Why, thank you.” I’ve had similar conversations with other nice people like him.

“No, thank you,” he said.Your stories got us through a lot of long trips when our kids were little. We had all your cassettes. Got them from Chinaberry Book Service.”

I used to do business with Chinaberry, a kids’ media operation out in California. Sold tens of thousands of recordings through them. This nice man’s wife, probably, had bought them, back when their kids were little. “Ah, yes,” I replied. “I’m glad your kids liked them. Tonight’s story is very different from those children’s recordings.”

“I expect so.”

“This one’s rather bloody,” I replied, thinking how in The Evergreens: Gentle Tales of Nature and The Teacup Fairy, some of my earliest kids’ albums, there is no blood.

“Can’t wait to hear it,” he said, sounding ready for some Viking wildness.

“Well,” I said, hitting a chord on the 12-string, “enjoy the show.”

“We will.” He returned to his seat at the bar next to a woman about his age. His wife, I assumed. The mother of the children he spoke of.

Baby Beluga! Baby Beluga!

The refrain from the song by Raffi echoed in my mind. I once met him, the man who wrote and sang that classic children’s song. A troubador from the Nineties, Raffi’s most famous song was Baby Beluga. He was the best-known of many musicians for young kids back then, a man who sang sweet, reassuring songs. I think of him as the Mr. Rogers of children’s music.

Back then I was selling recordings for young kids, too. Raffi always outsold anything I ever did, but then again, I wasn’t singing songs, which had a huge kids market before the advent of cellphones and iPad games. Instead I was telling stories, but even though they were for young children, they weren’t kiddie stories per se––stories about puppies and baby hedgehogs and so on. Nevertheless, lots of young children, including this gentleman’s who’d come up to say hello, apparently, had listened to them and had talked about them with their parents. I always tried to produce children’s media that didn’t make moms and dads lose their minds while listening to them, over and over again in their cars.

After the show I posed for photos with the man and his wife, along with a few other couples who proceeded to buy EPIC DRIVES. They wanted to send them to their grown children, they said, who now had kids of their own. Two young women in their twenties had listened to the Little Proto stories and loved them. A couple with their kids kept talking about The Blossom Tree, a Tibetan tale I tell, and I mentioned how I’ll be performing it in May as part of a weekend dedicated to the magic of trees, out in Colorado.

And so these stories I made a generation ago continue to make their way into the lives of a new generation, accomplishing a goal I always strove for: to make something that doesn’t quickly become marked as genre material of a former time.

I recommend Baby Baluga, too.



I know it’s weird, but it’s fun. Enacting an eighteen-foot tall demon beast, Grendel. And playing his creepy music while doing it. A monster who eats Vikings, this Grendel cannot speak. He just feels. Essentially he’s a giant wolf who walks on two legs and no Dane can kill him because his fur repels all metal blades. It’s not until Beowulf arrives on a mission of mercy to rid an old king of the monster’s nightly visits that Grendel meets his match. Beowulf must use his bare hands in what I like to think, considering the limitations of storytelling, is a pretty darn good battle scene.

All in the mind’s eye.

Tomorrow night, Sunday March 11, 2018, I’ll be enacting Grendel and a host of other characters in my performance of BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE at Grendel’s Den club on Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. Showtime is 5:30 p.m.

Come eat Viking food and drink strong spirits as you listen. A full evening of adult storytelling, this show is a bit too graphic for children. Still, as Beowulf says, “Fate often saves an undoomed man if his courage holds.”




I sat in my living room beneath my old tin ceiling this morning and recorded this quick extemporization on my Celtic harp. It’s a lovely instrument that creates an atmospheric music, which fits well while describing how in 1563, the year before Shakespeare’s birth, a scholar named Lawrence Nowell discovered the dusty manuscript of Beowulf in his master’s library. No one had seen it in five hundred years.

I’ll be returning to Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square this Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. to talk about that and then perform BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, probably my favorite story to tell these days. The score is on 12-string guitar, with leitmotifs for various characters. It’s a rather bloody and elemental story, and so children aren’t invited to experience it. But adults are.

Details and tickets are here.

An Ancient Knowing of Trees

An Ancient Knowing of Trees

As modern people who with a chain saw can fell a sequoia eight feet thick in a few minutes, it’s hard to imagine the awe ancient people felt for big trees. Especially in a climax forest that stretched in Roman times from England’s north all the way to its south, covering all except hunting trails. To this day, the famed Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood remains a small patch of that vast woodland.

It was the same everywhere across the planet, of course, wherever trees grew. Different people walked beneath different ones, but it was the same awe. So it’s no surprise that myths honoring trees are universal.

In South America, the first palm tree grew from the body of a buried maiden. In India, trees were thought of as sentient beings. Living beneath massive oaks in Britain, the Druids were named after them, while further north, Vikings believed a giant ash tree held up the universe. Everything in the Garden of Eden was edible, except for the fruit of one tree. When the Buddha attained nirvana, he was seated beneath the Bodhi Tree.

To celebrate this parade of archetypes, I’ll be telling my best stories about trees for kids and parents this coming May 25th at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. Some tales are funny, filled with animal characters, while others run deeper. All are filled with characters, naturalistic sounds and music on 12-string guitar, Celtic harp and more.

It’s an ideal family show for any parent who wants their child to respect living things.

Check it out here and get your tickets early!


–Odds Bodkin


Grendel’s Mother is Definitely Not Angelina Jolie in BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE

(a video of “Beowulf’s Theme” played by Odds Bodkin)

In Robert Zemeckis’s animated movie version of Beowulf, Angelina Jolie plays Grendel the monster’s mother. She is gold-skinned and womanly, a tip of the hat to Hollywood’s worship of the female form. Not only that, the she-demon’s voice is soft and seductive as she bewitches the men around her.

None of these scenes appear in the 1,000 A.D. Viking story, originally set down in Old English.

In the version of Beowulf I’ll be telling this coming Sunday on Harvard Square, like the monster Grendel himself, his mother is immense, wolf-like and anything but seductive. In fact, she’s terrifying. Creating a voice for her drags me to an extremity of dramatic expression I seldom visit in my right mind. Grendel the wolf-demon isn’t easy to voice either, roaring and slavering as he does; he has no language and speaks exclusively in aggressive animal tones. I just disappear and let him growl.

Both characters give me the willies, but this brand of storytelling—enacting characters—means I can’t legitimately leave them out of this wondrous old story. The human voices––Beowulf, Hrothgar and others––are much easier to embody.

In the past my storytelling style has been characterized as “over the top.” In the case of this tale, I’m afraid there’s no escaping it.

Beowulf: The Only One, a feature-length imagination entertainment for adults. Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at Grendel’s Den, Cambridge MA.

An adult performance. Not recommended for children.

Tickets are here.

12-STRING GUITAR VIDEO: Wars Along the Baltic/A Theme from Beowulf


Hi from Odds Bodkin.

Click the green link to watch a video of some 12-string guitar music. This clip is of Wars Along the Baltic, a theme from BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE. At the story’s beginning, I set the scene by describing how the Geats, the Franks, the Swedes and the Wylfings, among other Viking tribes, fought each other constantly over sea routes and standing feuds.

This music is played as I tell the tale.

To hear this music live, and a monster of a story to go with it, join the crowd at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA this coming Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Fun show. An adult evening of imagination entertainment.

Tickets are available here.



Hi from Odds Bodkin.

Click the green video link to watch and hear a 12-string guitar theme from my musical story, Beowulf: The Only One. This theme is Hrothgar’s Mead Hall.

It’s music that conveys the Vikings’ joy before the darkness of Grendel appears.

There’s a live show coming up at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. Lots of fun. An adult storytelling.

You can get tickets here.

BEOWULF Adult Storytelling at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square/Sunday March 11

“a consummate storyteller”––The New York Times

Odds Bodkin returns to Grendel’s Den on March 11, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. to perform BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, his feature-length telling of the ancient Viking legend. The tale includes character voices for Beowulf, King Hrothgar, Grendel the Monster and others, with a full score on 12-string guitar. Celtic harp music infuses Odds’ description of how a mild mannered tutor discovered the Nowell Codex (Beowulf) five hundred years after it was written.

An adult performance. Not suitable for children.

Tickets are $15.



With Celtic harp and 12-string guitar modern bard Odds Bodkin will perform BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 4th at The Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Told in modern language, the tale is the storyteller’s version of the oldest-known story in English literature.

Voices for Beowulf, Grendel the Beast and other characters combine to make a feature film for the imagination.

An adult storytelling; not appropriate for children.

Tickets: $10 and $13 at the door.



Seven years of teaching adult grad students how to tell stories at Antioch in New England showed me one thing: if they can locate their Muse, they’re golden. I’ve seen it many times. Given a few lines of story on a slip of paper––a folkloric fragment from somewhere in the middle of a tale they’ve never read––students often end up telling a 45-minute long original tale, crafting origins and endings. No kidding. It’s as if an acorn sprouted and instantly grew into an oak

It’s a glorious act to watch. How, without rehearsal and in their own words, they enter the image-rich Muse in their minds and become like jazz musicians of story, making it up as they go along.

The Muse, least Calliope, the Muse of Eloquence as the ancient Greeks thought of it, is a fusion of imagination and a certain kind of memory called “event memory.” Once you learn how to summon it, what James Joyce called “the smithy of the soul” fires up and off you go.

This coming May 25-27 I’ll be offering a full weekend workshop in storytelling in Colorado. Along with its emphasis on ancient tree lore, it provides a step-by-step process for Muse discovery.

Registration is limited to 30.

Details are here.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Adult Performance Sunday in NH

BEOWULF by Odds Bodkin: a live performance in an intimate setting.

A two-hour storytelling event for adults Sunday, March 4th at 7:00 p.m. at The Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire. Music on 12-string guitar and Celtic harp. Words in English.

Come and eat, drink strong spirits and enter an imagination dream.

“a consummate storyteller” ––The New York Times

“one of the great voices in American storytelling” ––Wired Magazine

Tickets $10, $13 at the door.