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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

TONIGHT at 7 PM EST: Odds Bodkin Live on Zoom Telling FALL OF THE TITANS

Grab a $15 ticket here and join Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin for a real-time Zoom performance of FALL OF THE TITANS. The show is tonight at 7 pm Eastern Standard time.

Background lore on Celtic harp, then the tale told with characters, narration and a full score on 12-string guitar.

Gaia gives birth to Titans. All is well on the early Earth until she starts to make monsters. Then things fall apart.

An adult Greek mythology epic storytelling. No children, please.


Your ticket buys the URL and password.

Find a screen and join the event!

——————————-

“a consummate storyteller” — The New York Times

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square.

 

 

GAIA’S MONSTERS: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s ZOOM Performance this Sunday at 7pm/FALL OF THE TITANS

Up until this point in FALL OF THE TITANS, Gaia the Earth has brought forth perfect human-like children with Ouranos, her husband, Titan of the Sky. She’s given birth to twelve Titan babies in all, each soon in charge of creating an ecosystem.

But this new infant is different. This newborn is a Cyclops, already gigantic as babies go. Even Titan babies.

“I love all my children equally, Ouranos,” Gaia says to horrified Ouranos as she cuddles the one-eyed infant. “And not everything I make is perfect.” She gently pokes the baby’s chest. “Hello, little Arges.” The infant glares at her and then screams like a thousand stabbed goats, even though he’s just been nursed. His Cyclops tummy is full, but still he makes this unnerving sound. It certainly unnerves Ouranos. He has no idea what this means, but it does not bode well.

In a nutshell, here is Gaia, the Earth Mother, the first being of all beings in Greek mythology, or as Ouranos calls her, “Queen of Us All.” Just as with our modern earth, in this fanciful mythological tale, life pours forth from Gaia all across her surface.

Her job is to make life, and in FALL OF THE TITANS, she does so, at times to a fault. She cannot control her fecundity, and she doesn’t really want to because it’s just too important to keep on creating. After all, one of her very first creations is Eros, the attraction between things, which binds the Universe together, and she’s still just as endlessly driven by the lust and love Eros brings as anybody else.

The only difference is, Gaia can create any living thing she likes.

Of any size.

In any form.

She can do it all by herself if she wants to. Ouranos secretly hopes that’s what she just did to create this baby Cyclops.

Maybe he’s not the father, Ouranos thinks. It would be nice if that were true. Maybe she used parthenogenesis, and created this little beast the same way she created Ouranos himself, long ago, from the flesh of her flesh.

He has no idea of the monsters to come.


FALL OF THE TITANS

An Odds Bodkin Virtual Storytelling Event

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square

Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm EST on ZOOM

TICKETS: $15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A WEEK FROM TODAY: A Zoom Performance Where You Have a Front Row Seat

Enjoy Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS: An Adult Storytelling, on Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm. With Every Ticket to this Zoom Show comes a 25% Discount on Odds Bodkin’s EPIC DRIVE, a goldmine of classic family storytellings.

The EPIC DRIVE includes all of Odds Bodkin’s 18 full-length audio albums, including his classic early recordings, which you’ll soon to be able to find on Siri and Alexa. Regular price: $99.95. Use your code to purchase all the mp3 albums for $74.95!

Plus join a real-time Q&A with Odds after the performance, hosted by Kari Kuelzer of Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, the show’s sponsor. How does Odds Bodkin create his 12-string guitar scores? Where do all those characters come from? Why are Greek myths still a vital element in American education?

Make yourself a Greek meal with some wine, or order a Greek pizza and some beer, and you’re ready for two solid hours of muse-inspired cinematic storytelling.

“a consummate storyteller”–The New York Times

“a modern-day Orpheus”–Billboard

 

FALL OF THE TITANS

An Odds Bodkin Online Event

July 19, 2020 at 7 p.m. EST

Ticket per Screen: $15

THE DEATH AND RE-BIRTH OF STORYTELLING

THE DEATH OF STORYTELLING

My last show before a flesh and blood audience was at Grendel’s Den, a famous watering hole in Cambridge, MA, on March 8th . Even then, that Sunday night, waiting backstage in the sold-out club, I felt a squirt of paranoia. Word was there was a deadly new virus loose on the streets of America. Meanwhile, here I was telling Norse myths with huge voices and guitar music to a bustling crowd in a single big room in Boston.

Squirting hand sanitizer on me, I remember telling myself, “Well, if it’s here, there’s nothing you can do about it. Do your show and get home.”

Turns out it wasn’t there.

Since my business is to travel places to meet live audiences, I’d always used hand sanitizer during the flu season, but that night, no one at Grendel’s wore a mask. It was unthinkable and not yet necessary. Mask-wearing in public was what they did in the crowded lands of SARS. Places like Hong Kong and China, not the U.S.

How things have changed.

The next week, mid-March, as I’m sure you remember, the country shut down. Schools closed. Restaurants. Sports events. Gatherings of any kind. We all went into isolation, if we were lucky, just after we stripped store shelves of sanitizer, TP, water and food.

The hard waves of the pandemic then struck, particularly in New York, where I’d spent my twenties. Meanwhile, so many people tumbled out of work, Congress passed the CARE Act, an unheardof moment of generosity in America, but also, an act of economic self-preservation for a government wary of food riots.

Now here it is, months later, just after a Fourth of July like no other, midway through a summer of discontentment riots, which are much the same thing. Most of the rioters wear masks. In New Hampshire where I live, everybody wears one in public now. Elsewhere, though, freedom-loving mask-deniers laugh at kow-towed mask-wearers, while mask-wearers despise mask-deniers for what they deem selfish ignorance and the idiotic spreading of predictable death. Certain industries—sports, cruise lines, hotels, eateries—have taken a tragic downturn and a new, distanced normal has set in, except wherever in beach country they’re not hurriedly shutting the beaches again as cases surge.

2020. A year for the history books.

Meanwhile, in my little world, live storytelling for crowds of happy kids has become illegal. So has live storytelling for crowds of happy adults, as I was doing back on March 8th. It’s the same for everybody else in the people business. Late night hosts working alone in their basements aren’t funny any more. Newscasters with their makeup and hair looking funky endure interruptions by their bored kids while on live TV.

The glitz is gone.

And this Fourth of July weekend, millions of families aren’t driving anywhere. Instead, they’re getting together with grandma and grandpa over Zoom.

 

THE REBIRTH OF STORYTELLING

Looking to adapt, even I’ve done a few shows on Zoom, from my attic studio. Two schools, both in Massachusetts, and a public library in New York State, have bought and paid for Zoom shows. Not that many, but enough for me to have tested the system, and with my producer, Gavin, perfected HD sound and video. Unlike most other entertainers, I’m already stripped down and have been for decades. My hair is already bad. I don’t wear makeup. I have no backup dancers. And my kids are grown up, so they won’t interrupt me. In fact, they’re helping me.

Back to Grendel’s Den, because Kari, who owns the place and runs it, and I, who have performed there for years, have ongoing intersecting business interests. She’s just recently been able to go from take-out only to socially distanced outdoor seating, so at least she’s getting to sell food and drink again. But inside, there’s no way shows can be mounted. Not yet. Many are saying not until a vaccine is ready. Meanwhile, Kari wants to maintain the zeitgeist of her operation, and part of that is me.

Back to Zoom. A month ago Kari and her team decided to sponsor and promote a show of mine, one of Kari’s favorites, Fall of the Titans. So I said sure, let’s try it. Instead of tickets for seats in your club, we’ll sell tickets for a Zoom meeting URL and a password. I’ve got a pretty solid base of fans down in Boston and elsewhere, so maybe they’ll go for this, we reasoned. The storytelling won’t be live in space but it will be live in time, so that’s something. In her club, people sat way in the back, sixty feet away, for a $20 ticket. For most, I’d think, I was too far away for them to watch the characters’ facial expressions I create as I work, but with Zoom, well, the camera’s just a couple of feet away. So every seat in a Zoom show is better than the best of the VIP front row table seats folks were paying for before in a live show. Plus, Kari suggested, we could do a Q&A afterwards, taking questions from the audience, something unworkable in a club setting. She wants to be the MC for those questions. Sure, I said, let’s give it a try. Fall of the Titans is at 7 pm on the East Coast, so Californians could watch it live at 4 pm. Folks in Europe would need to stay up until 1 in the morning to start watching, but who knows, this is live on the web and you never know what people will do.

So it’s on for July 19th at 7 pm EST.

Fall of the Titans is too intense a tale for young children. It’s cosmic and elemental Greek mythology with some very disturbing scenes. It is, however, the story of how the Greek gods came to be born, and why the Titans, their parents, fell. Hot stuff if you like myths.

On my blog here I’m writing semi-scholarly articles about it leading up to the performance. They’re good for background because even people familiar with Greek mythology aren’t necessarily familiar with this earliest of origin tales.

So, we’ll try to re-birth my storytelling in pandemic times and see what happens. If it works, we’ll do more of these adult shows on Zoom. I hope you attend.

Tickets $15

GAIA’S SECRET WEAPON: Mythological Background for Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS Adult Storytelling July 19th on Zoom

You can feel your immense dragon wings folded flat against your mile-long body as you grind through the dark tunnels of Tartarus, Gaia’s subterranean womb. You, Typhon, are her secret killing machine, her ultimate monster. With your dragon heads and giant claws and your sheer immensity, she’s placed her last hopes for victory in you. Overhead, the war on Earth’s surface against the gods has been going on for ten years now, and Gaia is worried the Titans will soon be defeated. If that moment comes, she will free you through the Earth’s crust with one mission only: to swiftly grasp and kill the god Zeus. Only you, Typhon, are powerful enough to do it.

Zeus’s betrayal is especially bitter for Gaia, because it was she who saved him as a baby from Cronus, his father, who had devoured all Zeus’s siblings up until that point. It was she who had hidden newborn Zeus on Crete, far from Cronus’s seeking gaze. She’d secretly visited the young god and watched him grow up. He’d called her “grandmother dear,” and she’d loved that. In her wildest dreams she’d never imagined he was capable of such treachery.

He’d hidden his true powers from her all along.

Well, Typhon, now it is Gaia’s turn to be treacherous, because she has hidden you from Zeus. He has no idea you exist.

That will be a fatal mistake.


FALL OF THE TITANS: An Epic Tale from Greek Mythology

Adult Storytelling with Characters and Live Music by Odds Bodkin

Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm EST on Zoom

TICKETS: $15

 

SPONSORED BY GRENDEL’S DEN IN CAMBRIDGE, MA

SUNDAY JULY 19TH at 7 PM: Odds Bodkin’s FALL OF THE TITANS

From Odds Bodkin’s cave of magic comes a ZOOM performance that translates 100%: FALL OF THE TITANS.

Where did the Greek gods come from? Who were the Titans? Who was Gaia? Why did Cronus the Titan swallow his Olympian children? How did only Zeus survive?

Find out in a feature-length adult storytelling on Sunday, July 19th at 7 pm. Buy your ticket, get your ZOOM invitation and password, then sit back and watch elemental characters come to life. Greek lore explained with Celtic harp music, then a tale told with 12-string guitar.

Every seat is a front row seat.

A performance for adults. No young children please.

Sponsored by Grendel’s Den in Cambridge MA.

Tickets are $15.

I Didn’t Think a Zoom Show Would Work, But It Did

I couldn’t see them as I sang “Meow meow meow meow!’ with my guitar humming, but Gavin could. All I could see was the camera, but behind it, on the studio bench, he was smiling at his computer. “You should have seen them, dad,” he said after the show. “All those little kids, standing and clapping and singing. They loved it.” Gavin Bodkin, in his infinite kindness, helps me with these shows.

“So it works,” I said.

“Yeah, it works.”

This was a live Zoom K-3 concert for a Montessori school in Boston, just last week. All the kids were at home in front of their computers or TVs, and I was in my studio in New Hampshire.  Usually I perform for kids live, of course, in large groups, but haven’t lately, for obvious reasons. Lots of performers have been missing that live audience energy, and I’m one of them. Storytelling is meant to engage the imagination, and that’s tough through a screen.  Still, if these little kids were singing along in real time and laughing, apparently it worked for them.

And so we evolve.

Check out available shows here.

 

WINNER of the 2020 STORYTELLING WORLD AWARD: an hour and 20 minutes of intense audio adventure

When Odds Bodkin set out to tell Beowulf, he knew he’d need to create two classic monsters: Grendel and Grendel’s Mother. And musical themes for each on 12-string guitar. Of course, a lovable voice for Beowulf himself was required for contrast.

The result of years of work is Beowulf: The Only One, Bodkin’s award-winning 1 hour and 20 minute tale for adults. Don’t invite the kids to listen because it’s just too horrific in places, but if you’d like a genuine feature-length movie for the mind, download this epic today!

$19.95

While you’re at Odds’ Shop, grab an Odyssey: An Epic Telling. 4 hours of more award-winning audio.

Story Time with Odds Bodkin on Facebook Live for Thursday, April 2: THE TALE OF THE KITTENS

Each day this week Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will tell a different music-filled story from his collection of tales for children.

The performances are at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

If you’re a mom or dad with kids at home during this scary time and you need a break, then sit the kids down for a story with wild characters, amazing sound effects and a live score on 12-string guitar.

On Thursday, April 2nd, at 12 noon EST, he’ll perform THE TALE OF THE KITTENS, a wondrous Italian fairy tale with a song to learn.

Follow Odds Bodkin at

https://www.facebook.com/oddsbodkin/

and join him on April 2 at 12 noon EST.

Please share with friends and family!

Visit Odds Bodkin’s Download Store for hours of listening!

 

Story Time with Odds Bodkin on Facebook Live for Wednesday, April 1st: The Elf of Springtime

Each day this week Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will tell a different music-filled story from his collection of tales for children.

The performances are at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

If you’re a mom or dad with kids at home during this scary time and you need a break, then sit the kids down for a half hour of fun characters, amazing sound effects and a live score Celtic harp.

On Wednesday April 1st at 12 noon EST, he’ll perform The Elf of Springtime, a heartwarming Swedish folktale told with Celtic harp.

Follow Odds Bodkin at

https://www.facebook.com/oddsbodkin/

and join him on April 1st at 12 noon EST for this live show!

Please share with friends and family!