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.

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.

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.

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.


Mostly the music haunts me. I still recall sitting out on my back porch under the sun umbrella one summer day trying to stitch the heartbreak together. “What can get at this tragic mood?” I kept asking myself, conducting experiments up and down the 12-string’s fingerboard. New chords I’d never played slowly revealed the sculpture-in-the-stone moment, the “ah ha!” release, when I finally said, “Wow. That’s it. That is beautiful. That has the dignity, the elemental loneliness and the magnificence I need.”

I was searching for a leitmotif for Beowulf the Viking hero. Having composed them for Odysseus in The Odyssey, David in David and Goliath, young Percival the knight in The Hidden Grail and other of my long-form bardic tales, musically it was a familiar creative process, but not emotionally.

You can get a flavor of Beowulf’s theme at 3:27 in this live recording of the tale.


I’ll be performing Beowulf: The Only One twice in the next weeks, and will be playing Beowulf’s theme and others as I do my best to enact him, King Hrothgar, Grendel the Beast and his vengeful monster mother. I still remember how when I recorded this tale live, the music worked. Two women in the audience felt the way I felt. Right there, in the middle of all those people, so loudly I heard it from the stage, they burst into tears.


Tickets and information:

Sunday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at the Riverwalk Music Bar, Nashua, N

Sunday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Grendel’s Den, Cambridge, MA




Thanks to Courtney Herrera, a dynamic herbologist in Colorado, I’ll be returning to the Mountain State this May 25-27 to visit Sunrise Ranch in Loveland for two storytelling concerts and a how-to storytelling workshop. Open to the public, tickets are now on sale.

First, COME, CHILD AND SIT WITH ME BENEATH THE WISDOM TREE, a Friday evening performance for families. Kids of any age are welcome. The theme of the overall weekend is our mythic and sacral relationship with trees down through the millennia. The show starts at 7 p.m. and details and tickets are here.

On Saturday night it’s THOR AND ODIN BATTLE THE FROST GIANTS, two immense Viking myths (the real deal, not Marvel) with little-known Viking lore that has fascinated the wonderful adult audiences I’ve had lately on Harvard Square. Tickets are here.

If you know anyone in Colorado who’d like to learn to tell stories (it doesn’t matter what kind) freely and creatively, then let them know about ANCIENT TREE MAGIC AND LORE: A TWO-DAY STORYTELLING WORKSHOP FOR ADULTS. I’ll be spending eight hours during Saturday and Sunday sharing this version of THE DOOR TO IMAGINATION: HOW TO AWAKEN YOUR INNER STORYTELLER, my course about discovering your Muse. Details and tickets here.

All these events I’ll fill with live music on Celtic harp, 12-string guitar and other instruments. The Muses will be at work. I’ll be playing a Celtic harp donated by Dave Kolocny of Kolocny Music in Denver. For years Dave has graciously given me a harp to use while out West.

Sunrise Ranch is a glorious spiritual retreat center with stunning physical beauty, great food and a host of caring folks.

Please let your Colorado friends know about these upcoming events!




Vivid Adventures that Build Imagination

Imagine a family vacation where the kids in the back are listening, instead of viewing. For ages 4 to forever. Odds Bodkin’s fun, amazing storytellings!

Vivid adventures that build imagination.

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BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE Adult Storytelling on Sunday March 4

First, little-known Viking lore accompanied with Celtic harp, and then BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, my storyteller’s version of the classic tale of a hero battling man-eating monsters. With a haunting score on 12-string guitar, I’ll narrate and create voices for Beowulf, King Hrothgar, Grendel the monster and his mother, and other characters.

It’s filled with a humor and terrifying tension that cleaves closely to the original tale.

Here’s a sample of the show:

Tickets are $10, $13 at the door.

The show is at Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Sunday March 4, 2018 at 7 p.m.