A Mad Scramble

It was a mad scramble. In an email, two weeks out from Sept. 9, Professor Walsh, Chair of Classics at Loyola, wrote that campus conditions were “vexing.” He warned we might have to go with Zoom again due to sudden Delta variant rules. I already had my Southwest Airlines ticket. As always, I’d stay with my sister Lindsay outside Baltimore, drive to town the night of the show, perform the tale, and then go out to dinner with the profs.

For fifteen years I’d done this in September. I’d pack my 12-string and tell either The Odyssey or the Iliad: Book I for two hundred Classics and Honors students in a big performance space. 70-minute storytellings. Either psychodrama or high adventure.

But now there was an indoor mask mandate on campus, even if vaccinated. How could I perform with a mask on? That was patently impossible and so I wrote Professor Joe Walsh back with the suggestion that for the second year in a row, against our frustrated wishes, we could always Zoom from my studio in New Hampshire. I work with a brilliant digital engineer named Gavin Bodkin, who has helped his dad move online since the pandemic began. Yes, Gav was available to produce. Joe Walsh agreed. My Zoom studio on the third floor had sat unused during a summer of live shows.

The mad scramble began.

I tightened the twelve fresh strings on my Taylor from the floppy looseness I’d planned on for safe flying. I strung it up to the open tuning I use for The Odyssey. Gavin produced the Zoom invitation to be sent to the students from faculty. Five nice people from Loyola suddenly became involved and we exchanged a blizzard of emails. I provided an Odyssey logo.

And then I heard Martha was back from sabbatical and that she’d be the one to introduce me. Professor Martha Taylor is, I guess, now that she’s back, the Chair of Classics once again. It was she who, fifteen years ago, established the annual tradition of inviting me to perform to kick off each fall semester. It might be over Zoom, but it would be great to see her again after her two sabbatical years.

I started rehearsing the Odyssey musical score and on a drive to my son Jon’s house to return a pair of sandals I’d inadvertently swiped at a party there, I ran the movie of the story in my mind. Troy. The beach at Ismaros. The Lotus Eaters. The Cyclops. After a half hour out, and a half hour back, the story was rehearsed and ready.

Bless his heart, Gavin arrived at 4:30 for the 7 pm show, rested for an hour, and then we climbed the two flights of stairs to the studio. A jet black backdrop, a wooden chair, a quiet little fan, tried and true lighting, and the camera mounted in place two feet away from me. Last spring I conducted performances and full day residencies for elementary kids from that chair. I doubted I’d ever be back. The pandemic was over, right? Wrong, as we all now know.

By 6:35 Gavin was in his headphones watching the computer, seeing who was in the waiting room. Joe showed up on my screen and we talked until Martha, too, appeared. We chatted, lamented our lost profs’ dinner, and got ready for the show. More and more students were signing on.

Telling my version of The Odyssey is like entering a dream. The music is constant, and lofts the words and sounds along. Once it begins inside the Trojan Horse, it doesn’t end until the Cyclops is blinded, and Odysseus escapes with what’s left of his crew. During such shows, I lose all sense of time and awareness of my body. All that I’m aware of is my fingers running the frets of the guitar, and how the music is blending with the imagery. The characters all know what to say. Sometimes they surprise me, and say things I’ve never heard before.

This version ended up seventy-five minutes. Then came the questions. Suddenly, faces appeared in group mode on Zoom. Here were all these young people who’d just watched the show with me on full screen, only I could see them now. Groups of five or six on a couch, with masks on. Some alone in their dorm rooms. Hands went up. The questions? How did I memorize all that? Is the music all planned out? We went on for another fifteen minutes. They were enthusiastic and very nice.

I’m old. They’re young. Still, it worked.

Of course, the story is imagined, not memorized, and the music, like jazz, is spontaneous, moment to moment.

Even Martha loved it. She sent me a post-show email inviting me back for year sixteen.

So it looks as if until this plague really does end, I’m Zooming again.

 

https://www.oddsbodkin.net/educational-programs/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Back-to-School Storytelling Motherlode

The Back-to-School Storytelling Motherlode is Odds Bodkin’s MASTER DRIVE.

Buy it, plug it in, and share these mp3 albums with your young children, elementary and middle and high school students, and you, the adults. All 19 albums are age-coded. There’s even Odds Bodkin’s The Water Mage’s Daughter, a 550-page epic poem for literate readers.

These award-winning storytelling albums include live acoustic music, character voices and stunning vocal sound effects, some with virtuoso whistling here and there. It’s all real.

100% natural storytelling. Classics as well, like The Odyssey, Hercules, David and Goliath and Beowulf.

Grow your family’s imaginations and knowledge with the Back-to-School Motherlode–

Odds Bodkin’s MASTER DRIVE.

The Ultimate Back to School Storytelling Collection: Give Your Child the Imaginative Edge

Got a kid in kindergarten? You’ll want this. Got an elementary age child? You’ll want this. Are you yourself someone who values high-quality adult storytelling? You’ll probably want this, too.

Odds Bodkin’s EPIC DRIVE, a collection of 19 full-length storytelling albums. The New York Times calls him “a consummate storyteller.”

The Evergreens: Gentle Tales of Nature for the youngest of listeners.

The Odyssey: An Epic Telling, a fabulous introduction to Homer’s world (when you order the drive, we’ll include a free autographed Odyssey Adventure Map of the Mediterranean Sea that tracks Odysseus’ journey): great for 5th graders on up.

 

The Little Proto Trilogy, three musical dinosaur tales the entire family will enjoy. Parents’ Choice award-winners.

And much more. Paul Bunyan tales. Funny Folktales. Fairy Tales. Beowulf. Hercules. On and on.

Just plug in the drive and drag the mp3 files onto your computer, then share them with your family. And you can share the drive with others, too.

An award-winning treasure trove of musical tales, filled with unforgettable characters.

THE EPIC DRIVE.

Give your child the imaginative edge.

 

11 Days Left in MASTER DRIVE Sale! Ends July 30th!

11 days remain in Odds Bodkin’s MASTER DRIVE sale at the storyteller’s online shop.

Get $50 off the price of his MASTER DRIVE this July. This flash drive features his complete audio stories, his epic poem The Water Mage’s Daughter (550 pages pdf), a live performance video plus original musical compositions.

Just plug it in and distribute the stories to your family’s devices! All mp3 audios.

 

Regular price: $199.95. Now $149.95!

Perfect for Family Travel!

 

Age-Coded Stories Include:

The Adventures of Little Proto (audio)

Little Proto’s T-Rex Adventure (audio)

Little Proto and the Volcano’s Fire (audio)

The Teacup Fairy: Very Old Tales for Very Young Children (audio)

The Evergreens: Gentle Tales of Nature (audio)

With Twinkle in your Eye: Funny Folktales from Everywhere (audio)

Rip Roarin’ Paul Bunyan Tales (audio)

The Winter Cherries: Holiday Tales from Around the World (audio)

The Blossom Tree: Tales from the Far East (audio)

The Wise Little Girl: Tales of the Feminine (audio)

Earthstone: The Eco-Musical (2 hour audio)

The Odyssey: An Epic Telling (4 hour audio)

Giant’s Cauldron: Viking Myths of Adventure (audio)

Hidden Grail: Sir Percival and the Fisher King (90 minute audio)

Stories of Love (audio)

David and Goliath: The Harper and the King (audio)

The Myth of Hercules (audio)

 

Plus Rare Works:

Beowulf: The Only One (live audio recording)

The Iliad: Book I (50-minute video)

The Water Mage’s Daughter: a 13,000-line epic poem. (PDF e-book)

 

Plus Odds Bodkin’s Original Musical Compositions on Acoustic Instruments and Kurzweil synthesizer:

Rapunzel’s Window

At Beauty’s Door

Black Irish

Soft-Hearted Men in the Good Old USA

Little Paws

Christmas Morning

The Great Irish Elk

 

Order yours today!

Odds Bodkin’s THE ODYSSEY 4-hour storytelling audio on sale for two weeks! Usually $49.95, now $34.95!

Usually $49.95, you can now grab Odds Bodkin’s classic telling of Homer’s Odyssey for $34.95! Download all 42 episodes today! This sale lasts two weeks, until June 21, 2021!

From the Belly of the Trojan Horse to the Return to Ithaca ten years later, go inside the mind of Odysseus, the original epic hero of Greek mythology. This classic tale is over 4 hours long and great for vacation car travel. Kids love it, and listen intently. Includes a full musical score on 12-string guitar and Celtic harp.

Winner of the Oppenheim Platinum Award for Best Vacation Product.

Tonight 5:00-6:30 pm, Odds Bodkin is on Full-Screen Zoom to Tell BEOWULF

Scored throughout with haunting and beautiful music on 12-string guitar, here is Odds Bodkin’s renowned storyteller’s version of Beowulf, a thousand year old Viking tale of darkness and light.

The monsters lurk in the fens, staring down the cliffs at the humans, tiny creatures who sing in their feasting hall to push back the night. The first monster, Grendel, who towers to the height of many men, hates the singing. With his enchanted fur to protect him and his wolf fangs to tear apart flesh, he attacks and takes back thirty slain men to eat in his cave.

The Danes are terrorized. Every night, Grendel comes. They try iron, bronze, silver, even gold sword blades and spear points, but nothing can penetrate Grendel’s hide.

For twelve years, the monster feasts, until in a far off land, a great warrior–one who has a reason to be grateful to the Danes–decides to go on a mission of mercy to kill the beast.


First discovered in 1563 in a dusty library when it was already five hundred years old, Beowulf is the oldest known work in the English language, a classic in every sense. Odds Bodkin brings it to life tonight on full-screen Zoom.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE

Sunday Feb. 28 at 5:00 pm EST on Zoom

Not recommended for children

Tickets: $25

 

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

Huddle Around the Zoom Fire Sunday Night for Beowulf

With 12-string guitar and Celtic harp, character voices and sound effects, master storyteller Odds Bodkin will perform his classic tale, BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, for adults this Sunday night at 5 pm EST. The tale contains mayhem and violence and is not recommended for children.

Shorn of its heraldic side stories, Bodkin’s version of Beowulf cleaves closely to the original thousand-year-old story of a thane who rescues an aged king from monsters that attack his hall. Filled with striking scenes and plenty of humor, the story translates vividly over Zoom.

 

Tickets are $25

 

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE

ODDS BODKIN

MARCH 28, 2021 AT 5 PM EST ON ZOOM

 

This performance is sponsored by Grendel’s Den.

 

Deep Inside Act II of Beowulf, A Bizarre Scene

He’s already killed Grendel, a towering, sword-proof beast, but now Beowulf has sunk to the bottom of a reeking mere to hunt and kill Grendel’s mother. If Beowulf rids Denmark of these demons, King Hrothgar will declare him his son. In Beowulf’s world, that’s the promise of full half of Hrothgar’s fabulous wealth, enough for Beowulf to become a king himself back home. Hrothgar is the richest man along the Baltic.

Denmark and Sweden/Geatland

 

As he approaches her underwater cave, Grendel’s Mother curses Beowulf. She has dragged her son’s carcass here along with the bloody, hairy arm Beowulf tore off Grendel in the mead hall, which she has stolen back before retreating to her home. She is huge, with fangs and claws, yet she stands like a woman at the water’s edge. With Grendel gone, she is now the last of their kind. Through the ripples she sees soft colored lights beyond the submerged entrance. The man, the killer of her son, has arrived at the mere’s bottom.

Into the water she slides, kicking through the blackness toward what she sees is a helmet with glowing gems on its crown.

Holding his sword out, the man cannot see her. Stealthily, she swims to behind him and violently clamps her fangs onto the helmet, thinking to crush it, along with the soft human skull inside.

Up until this moment, Beowulf has been reliving boyhood memories. How Hrothgar once paid the blood price for Beowulf’s father, and the Wylfings had stopped pursuing him. It had been wonderful to stand on the ship’s deck heading home to Geatland with his father, who was a free man at last. Yes, Beowulf has come here for glory, but also to show gratitude to King Hrothgar of the Danes for that act of mercy so long ago.

Feeling sudden pressure inside the helmet, Beowulf slides out of it and slashes the sword, Hrunting, at the she-beast behind him, but the blade is too slow in the water. With a bubbling scream she shoots back into her cave, ready for the fight.

She is three times his size.

However, Grendel’s Mother does not know that this man is Beowulf, a fearless thane of the Geats who has come from the north, a warrior with the grip of thirty men. He doesn’t know it yet, but after she stabs him in the chest, he will kill her with a weapon crafted by long-dead giants.

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In the actual telling of this scene from BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, haunting, scintillant music on 12-string guitar builds the creepiness, while Grendel’s Mother hisses loudly to herself, and Beowulf’s voice speaks his inner monologue, “Fate often saves an undoomed man if his courage holds.”

Come see and hear the entire tale via ZOOM on Sunday, Feb. 28th at 5 pm EST.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE

AN ODDS BODKIN ZOOM STORYTELLING

SUNDAY, FEB. 28, 2021 AT 5 PM EST

TICKETS: $25

 

Hear a sample from the tale:

SPONSORED BY GRENDEL’S DEN.

 

 

 

 

 

TWO ODDS BODKIN ZOOM CONCERTS COMING UP: BEOWULF and TALES FOR GIRLS

Over the next three weeks, Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will be live on ZOOM for two very different shows–BEOWULF, a brooding adult show, and SHE’S CLEVER, THAT ONE: FAIRY TALES FOR SMART GIRLS, a funny, rollicking concert for the whole family.

BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, his storyteller’s version of the oldest known work in English literature, goes live Sunday Feb. 28th at 5 pm EST. A riveting, feature-length tale with music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA, this is among his best-loved tellings and is a favorite on Harvard  Square. Tickets are $25.

 

 

Then, on Sunday March 7th at 5 pm EST, it’s SHE’S CLEVER, THAT ONE: FAIRY TALES FOR SMART GIRLS in celebration of International Women’s Day. Odds uses 12-string guitars and Celtic harp to animate four of his classic fairy tales for kids, each featuring a brave and clever girl hero. Tickets are $25.

Some fans say they prefer his ZOOM shows because of the close-ups on his face and instruments. Judge for yourself from the comfort of your home.

Your ticket purchases your Zoom invitation with a password for the show.

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Too Late for Odds Bodkin Story Downloads

It’s Christmas Eve. Is it too late to buy a meaningful gift? No, not if you visit Odds Bodkin’s Shop and grab an All Collections + Bundle: all Bodkin’s audio tales for young children plus 3 long epics for older listeners and adults.

Download endless hours of classic listening in minutes.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

BEOWULF. Download Odds Bodkin’s Live Performance in Audio

Adult storytelling at its most extreme and beautiful.

amilolomy (verified owner)

This is the version that made me absolutely fall in love with the Beowulf story, and really understand why it has become such a classic piece of literature. There is such life and emotion in the way Bodkin tells it, that you just can’t get from reading it alone. He takes it from being a dry, unsentimental piece of curriculum and spins it into a deeply moving journey.

I always find myself crying by the end of it.

Buy Odds Bodkin’s telling of Beowulf here.