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!

 

 

Telling HERCULES IN HELL to Inmates: A True Story

I’ll be performing HERCULES IN HELL tomorrow, Sunday Oct 18 on ZOOM at 5 pm. Meanwhile, here’s a story about this particular story.

Roy Stevens and I arrived at the prison in the late morning. In the warm Central Valley of California, the compound was little more than a group of low cinder block barracks painted yellow, surrounded by two layers of tall fencing topped by razor wire. At the administration building, the Warden met us as we were buzzed through the multiple gates. He told us that he and his wife would attend the performance along with about a hundred male inmates. The guards wore side-arms.

Frankly, I wasn’t worried about the warden’s opinion nearly as much as I was that if the inmates weren’t entertained by my story, one might shove me a shiv on my way out. I felt like Johnny Cash at Folsum Prison, only I wasn’t famous and singing about a Boy Named Sue. Instead, I was telling an hour-long Greek myth, of all things. Roy had set up this show during a tour. Doing his civic duty was part of his wheeling and dealing to get me out to California for a month of shows.

A group of inmates shuffled through a fenced corridor followed by a guard with a .45 in its holster.  All were White and Latino men. While Roy and I were setting up the PA system in the prison yard, it dawned on me that on my little flat stage, there would be nothing between me and the inmates during the show. No raised stage. No barriers.

This wasn’t a super-max, but all these guys were being held here for one unseemly reason or another.

The music will work on them, I remember saying to myself. Just get the music going.

As Roy set up the two big speakers and the PA, I broke out my 12-string guitar, tuning it in the hot sun. Inmates emerged from the barracks, slouching against the walls, staying in the shade. They were curious and skeptical. Politely rephrased, who on earth were we?

Roy Stevens, by the way, is a world-class opera singer, who is now the artistic director of Opera Modesto. We’d met at Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island a few years before, as across New York Harbor, the newly destroyed World Trade Center was belching smoke.

We’d become friends. We still are.

Just get the music going. The score for HERCULES IN HELL is in a modified e flat tuning, an at times brooding, at other times triumphant set of leitmotifs. So, with the PA on loud, I began warming up. No talk, just music. It boomed across the compound and the men started to listen. I could see from their body language that they liked it. After all, Hercules was a great criminal, a violent and injured man. This music conveys that. And an endless, hard journey. And a lot of sad beauty. Here’s a sample:

 

Well, in the end, the Warden and his wife showed up and the inmates fell under the bardic spell of Hercules’ deep voice. I told the story non-stop for 65 minutes, and then ended the tale. Nobody moved during the show. After the applause, which I couldn’t believe happened, the inmates lined up to get my autograph, which I couldn’t believe was happening either, and man after grizzled man told me how they’d never heard a story like this before, and that it meant a lot to them. Fifty, sixty of them, I recall. I used fifty or sixty very short #2 pencils. Someone had given each man a scrap of paper as well. For the guys who didn’t have paper, I noticed, other guys tore theirs in half.

Amazed at how grateful and civil the men were, I signed the last autograph, somewhat relieved that nobody had stabbed me with his pencil. After shaking hands with the Warden and his wife, Roy and I left.

HERCULES IN HELL: A story about a tough life with redemption at the end.

———————–

HERCULES IN HELL

An Adult Storytelling by Odds Bodkin

Oct. 18, 2020 at 5pm EST on Zoom

Tickets: $15

If you don’t have Zoom, the download is free!

This Zoom concert is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

 

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: The Glory of Hera? No, Just the Opposite

“Herakles” translates to “the glory of Hera”, an ironic name indeed for the hero who came to be known as Hercules, since the Queen of Olympus does everything in her power to ruin his life. As Hercules relates it in Odds Bodkin’s live story performance HERCULES IN HELL, when Hera hears that Zeus, her philandering husband, has fathered yet another child with a mortal woman, her jealousy knows no bounds. She conceives an animus for Hercules that will last his entire lifetime.

During her first attempt at his murder, when he’s an infant, she sends two serpents to bite him in his cradle, but instead, just by playing with them, the young demigod strangles them.

None too pleased, but biding her time, Hera waits until Hercules is married with a young family; he’s a prince on his way to becoming king. She then sends what Hercules calls “a storm of blood”, a madness that tears out his senses and plunges him into hallucinations. Attacking him from all sides come monsters, lions, centaurs and enemies, and so in his survival rage he fights back, destroying them all.

It’s only after the madness passes that he finds his wife and children dead at his feet. Their blood is on his hands. He can’t remember doing it. Always too strong, he has now murdered those he loves most. Drowning in guilt and unaware that Hera sent the madness, Hercules fears the insanity will return, and so he flees to the wilderness to live on squirrels and berries, filthy in his solitude.

Still, no matter where he is, the guilt eats at his soul. He cannot sleep. His dead family appears in his dreams every night. Finally, he journeys to the Oracle of Delphi and learns of his unwelcome fate. Zeus and the Fates have decreed that until he completes Labors for the King of Mycenae, Hercules will never be free of his guilt.

And so he journeys to the Court of King Eurystheus of Mycenae, puts himself under the thumb of his weak cousin, and his Labors begin.

Initially, Zeus and the Fates decreed ten labors, but because Eurystheus finds reasons to deny two of them, they end up twelve.

 

———————

Join Odds Bodkin via Zoom on Sunday, Oct 18 at 5 pm EST for his epic telling of the life story of Hercules. The camera is up close and the sound and video are HD, so you can watch the instrumental work on 12-string guitar as a master storyteller enacts his characters.

A solid and entertaining lesson in epic Greek mythology, one you’ll never forget. Not recommended for children under 12.

 

HERCULES IN HELL

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 at 5 pm on Zoom

Tickets: $15

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: The Golden Stag of Artemis/Coming Up Sunday!

Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt, owns a supernatural stag. With hoofs of brass and antlers of gold, it’s a glowing creature that hunters are afraid to mistake for game. If they threaten it, Artemis will surely appear and kill them. Legend says the Ceryneian Stag can run at full speed for a year.

When King Eurystheus, Hercules’ petulant cousin, says to bring it to him, Hercules is shocked. “But Eurystheus,” he moans, “it is a sacred beast!”

“Zeus said I could,” his cousin retorts from his throne. “It’s my command! So do it!”

Knowing he’ll have to chase it for a year, Hercules finally spots the stag in the woods. The ancient hero begins to chase it…

To find out how Hercules completes this astonishing labor, with gentleness and honor—including a confrontation with the young goddess herself–grab your $15 ticket for Odds Bodkin’s upcoming Zoom concert, HERCULES IN HELL.

Log in and Odds will appear on full screen for the hour-long storytelling show. Voices for characters and continuous music on 12-string guitar make this an unforgettable experience. You’ll learn more Greek mythology in one hour than you’ve ever known.

HERCULES IN HELL

An Adult Storytelling by Odds Bodkin

Oct. 18, 2020 at 5pm EST on Zoom

Tickets: $15

 

If you don’t have Zoom, the download is free!

This Zoom concert is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: The Augean Stables

Eurystheus, King of Mycenae, Hercules’ weak cousin, has been granted control over him by Zeus and the Fates. Hercules must perform labors–anything his cousin asks. Slavery was common in ancient Greece where Greek slaves from conquered towns worked the fields and mines, and cleaned up animal dung. And so when Eurystheus tells Hercules to go clean the filthy stables of King Augeas of Elis, the hero is enraged, but he has no choice.

Upon seeing the years of cow dung piled up to the rafters beneath acres of stables, Hercules’ heart sinks. He must do it in one day. He calculates it will take the shoulders of ten thousand men to do the job. He’s fast, but not that fast. It seems impossible.

And yet he does it.

 

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Join Master Storyteller Odds Bodkin as he tells this episode and learn how Hercules triumphs in his sixth labor using his wit and strength.

Sunday, Oct. 18th at 5 pm EST on Zoom. The app is free to download if you don’t already have it. With HD sound and video, HERCULES IN HELL is a tour de force of storytelling, scored with powerful, exciting music on 12-string guitar throughout.

An utterly different, magical way to spend a Sunday evening.

TICKETS are $15 per screen.

This is an adult storytelling. Children 12 and up are welcome.

 

This performance is sponsored by Grendel’s Den of Cambridge, MA. A legendary watering hole. Visit them for great food and atmosphere.

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: Blood of the Hydra

In Odds Bodkin’s upcoming adult telling of HERCULES IN HELL on Zoom, Hercules makes a fateful error that haunts him for years, and in the end, is the tragic cause of his death.

During his second labor, Blood of the Hydra, the King of Mycenae sends Hercules to slay the Hydra, a dragon with nine heads. It has taken up residence in the swamps of Lake Lerna and has killed everything for miles around it. Birds. Fish. Insects. Everything.

“Wasn’t one of its heads immortal?” asks Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, fascinated by Hercules’ story.

“Yes,” he replies, “but worse than that, its blood was pure poison. One drop, the slightest spatter on your skin, and you die.”

With his young nephew Iolus’ help, Hercules succeeds in slaying the Hydra, but afterwards dips his arrows in the pools of its blood. From then on, just a scratch from one of his arrowheads means instant death.

“And you came to regret that?” asks Hades.

Hercules sighs. “I thought it was wise at the time.”

 

——————–

Join Odds Bodkin via ZOOM on Sunday, Oct 18 at 5 pm EST for his epic telling of the life story of Hercules. The camera is up close and the sound and video are HD, so you can watch the instrumental work on 12-string guitar as a master storyteller enacts his characters.

A solid and entertaining lesson in epic Greek mythology, one you’ll never forget, this is an adult storytelling not recommended for children under 12.

ZOOM downloads are free.

HERCULES IN HELL

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 at 5 pm on Zoom

Tickets: $15

 

This virtual event is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA.

THE HERCULES CHRONICLES: Persephone, the Unhappy Wife of Hades

Persephone, Queen of the Dead, despises her husband Hades. Trapped in the Underworld with him, she longs for news of the living. And so when Hercules, freshly dead, drops down before her, she won’t let him proceed to his afterlife on Mt. Olympus until Hercules tells both her and her husband his life story.

This is Odds Bodkin’s dramatic framing for his epic tale, HERCULES IN HELL. It’s coming up soon on Zoom.

Hercules hates telling his story, because his life tallies just as many foul murders as glorious acts, but he tells it anyway, just to be able to leave. And so, in a huge, deep voice, Odds Bodkin takes on the role of Hercules in the first person:

“My mother, Alcmene, loved my mortal father Amphitryon, but she would not have him in her bed until he’d avenged the deaths of her brothers, so while he was away, Zeus came to mother, disguised as Amphitryon, and fathered me. So who is my father? Zeus, yes. But I’ve never met him. Some father he is. No, it was Amphitryon who raised me…”

Odds won the prestigious Golden Headset Award for Best Audio when he released his epic Hercules recording into the storytelling world. Now you can watch him tell it, live and up close, as he Zooms the show from New Hampshire.

Sunday, Oct. 18th at 5 pm EST.

Teens love this story, as well as adults. Odds has even spellbound incarcerated men with this marvel of storytelling. It’s about a man who cannot control his temper, a bad thing when you’re the strongest man in the world.

Grab a $15 ticket and mark the date!

The Zoom concert is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. Visit them. The food is great. So are the people.

Coming Up Oct. 18: Odds Bodkin’s Zoom Performance of HERCULES IN HELL

 

A Professor of Classics should know what he’s talking about, and Joseph Walsh of Loyola University Maryland certainly does. He and his students experienced an Odds Bodkin Zoom performance just three weeks ago. Here’s what he wrote:

“Odds Bodkin has been thrilling our students every Fall for years now with his live performances, and this year’s zoom performance of Iliad Book 1 was every bit as successful. We have gotten a good deal of feedback from the attendees, and it indicates that they were mesmerized, as usual.  Indeed, several students who had seen Odds perform in the past – and he has fans who come back every year – considered it even better.  They loved the fact that they could see his face up close, watch his fingers dance across his guitar and harp, and they thought not a bit of the usual intensity and beauty of his performance was lost.”

Now you can have a front row seat for yet another dynamic telling of a Greek mythology classic, HERCULES IN HELL. This GOLDEN HEADSET AWARD-winning spoken word tale features amazing voices, a score on 12-string guitar, and an exploration of the shocking myth of Hercules. His murders, his labors, his enslavement, his triumphs.

This is an adult storytelling. No children please.

Sunday, Oct. 18 at 5 pm EST on Zoom

Tickets are $15.

 

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den.

PROFESSOR REVIEWS ODDS BODKIN’S UNIVERSITY SHOW ON ZOOM

Joseph Walsh is the current Chair of Classics and Co-Director of the Honors Program at Loyola University Maryland. On September 10, 2020, storyteller Odds Bodkin and Walsh tried an experiment: since the university went completely virtual for Fall, would Bodkin’s annual Classics performance of The Iliad or The Odyssey work on Zoom?

Here is Walsh’s review:

“Odds Bodkin has been thrilling our students every Fall for years now with his live performances, and this year’s zoom performance of Iliad Book 1 was every bit as successful. We have gotten a good deal of feedback from the attendees, and it indicates that they were mesmerized, as usual.  Indeed, several students who had seen Odds perform in the past – and he has fans who come back every year – considered it even better.  They loved the fact that they could see his face up close, watch his fingers dance across his guitar and harp, and they thought not a bit of the usual intensity and beauty of his performance was lost.  I agree.  It was just terrific.  Several students said they broke out into applause at the end, even though they knew Odds could not hear them, and a few even said they gave him a standing ovation, though they knew he could not see them.  They were just carried away, as was I.  We were a bit apprehensive about having a zoom performance, but our apprehensions were completely unfounded.  Great performance, as usual, and every bit as impactful.  And it transported our students, who are studying remotely and feeling confined and disappointed with the current circumstances, beyond their homes, beyond these times, and beyond this world.”


Bodkin’s next Zoom performance is yet another of his renowned tellings of Greek myths. Hercules in Hell comes online live on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 5 pm EST. Buy a ticket, get your Zoom invitation, and settle in for an epic imaginative experience.

An Endangered Tradition Makes the Leap to ZOOM

It’s been thirteen years since Martha Taylor, Chair of Classics at Loyola University Maryland, first invited me to perform The Iliad or The Odyssey live before her audience of Classics and Honors students. Every September since then, I’ve journeyed to Baltimore, stayed with my sister Lindsay at her place outside the city, and then gone to campus for one of the two shows. Afterwards, Martha and Joe Walsh, another amazing Classics professor, would always take me out for some fine dining.

Then came Covid and the university went totally remote for the fall semester. No students on campus. Everybody on Zoom. As with so many traditions, here was another one endangered by the virus. I though for sure it was over.

But guess what? Last night, with my excellent Zoom producer Gavin Bodkin and event techs from Loyola co-coordinating, I performed The Iliad: Book I live at 7 pm. It worked! A hundred and twenty-nine students logged on and they all stayed at their screens for the entire telling. We followed with a live Q&A, and all but three stayed for that. They even typed in their questions, lots of them, about the music and character voices, and I answered onscreen, explaining how it was done. It was a solid hour and lots of fun.

No fine dining this year, but the show went on.

The art was made.

I am pleased as punch.


My next ZOOM concert is THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA.

Sunday Sept. 20th at 5 pm EST.

Tickets: $15 per screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO WAS HOMER?

Some say Homer was a sightless genius like John Milton. Milton dictated his three massive poems—The Divine Comedy—to an amanuensis who wrote them down. Homer, however, performed his poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, aloud and before live audiences. Scholars guess that Homer used character voices and lyre music during his shows to bring his tales to life. He lived in Ancient Greece circa 700 B.C.

While The Iliad is filled with horrifyingly vivid descriptions of battlefield carnage and details about what swords and spears can do to a human body, The Odyssey is more of a fantastical adventure. It features monsters, cannibals, enchantresses, drugged out Lotus Eaters and many-headed dragons. Much of it takes place out on the open sea as Odysseus wanders from island to island across the Mediterranean. Here, as his fleet is slowly destroyed and all his friends are killed, he becomes the last man standing after ten years of woe. Only he returns to his island of Ithaca alive.

Even then, things aren’t easy. He’s been gone twenty years and the sons of Ithaca have grown into rowdy, fatherless men.

It must have taken Homer many nights to recite his monumental works in their entirety. At some point scribes set down his famous words and what was until that point oral literature held in one man’s mind became written literature for the ages. The two epics have been translated into English, and I used Robert Fitzgerald’s version to map out the best of Odysseus’s adventures for modern listeners.

I’ll be performing my intro to the tale, THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST in about a month, on ZOOM. The 70-minute show is sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA. Tickets are $15. The date is Sunday, Sept. 20th at 7 pm EST.

Years ago, when I performed it at Dartmouth College, a professor wrote that my version is the closest thing we have to a Homeric performance.

This is the second in my three-part Greek myths for adults series on ZOOM. If you want to see what a Greek myth like this looks and sounds like, you’re welcome to listen to FALL OF THE TITANS, here on YouTube. I told this tale a couple of weeks ago.

SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES AND CLUBS MOVING TO ZOOM SHOWS WITH ODDS BODKIN

With all the uncertainly surrounding school openings, Loyola University Maryland has decided to go completely remote. Students won’t be on campus, but to preserve a twelve-year Odds Bodkin September tradition, the Department of Classics has chosen to invite Odds once again, only this time via ZOOM. The performance: THE ILIAD: BOOK I.

Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, a location in Boston where Odds has regaled adult ticketed audiences for years, wants to preserve the magic. The two shows coming up on ZOOM sponsored by Grendel’s? THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST on September 20th and HERCULES IN HELL on October 18th.

Simonds School in Warner, New Hampshire had to postpone a 2-day GOLDEN RULE: WORLD STORIES ABOUT EMPATHY residency for K-2 and 3-5 last spring with Odds. But with an HD video and sound ZOOM studio, he’ll be visiting the school anyway. Two performances on full-screen, followed by interactive workshops with the students will take place on September 21st and 22nd.

Yes, there’s a pandemic. Crowds of listeners crammed into big rooms, especially crowds of kids, are problematic these days.

But Odds’ brand of performing arts—always a complete one–man show—doesn’t require a troop of actors onstage, sets or backup musicians. Odds provides all that in his musical storytelling shows. Even Classics and Honors students and their professors at Loyola know that.

If your kids or grandkids go to a school, give them live Odds Bodkin stories by suggesting programs to teachers and principals. Every seat is a front row experience.

To find out more, go here.