A CHRISTMAS STORY LIKE NO OTHER…Odds Bodkin in MA this Dec. 1

Imagine you are a generous but now impoverished old knight who needs a boon from the High King, but you’re too embarrassed to see your old friend without even a small gift to bring. It’s been forty years since you saved the king’s life. He hasn’t seen you since.

And then, a miracle. The dead cherry tree in your courtyard blooms and grows cherries in a dark snowstorm. It’s three days before Christmas Eve. With the miraculous cherries in a basket, you set off on foot for Cardiff Castle. Essentially, you are carrying a gift from God.

English law of the time states that anyone, even peasants, can beg a boon from the king on Christmas Eve. And so, disguised as a farmer, you bang on the castle’s guardhouse door. The rough guard inside thinks you’re just another peasant and so tells you you’re too late to get in, that is, until you show him what you’ve brought: glowing, fresh cherries. An impossibility in winter. The guard knows the king will love them and give an you extraordinary boon.

He agrees to let you in, but demands one third of whatever gold, silver, gems or furs the king may give you. It’s frank extortion, but to get into the castle, you agree. You promise him a third of your boon and you enter the castle.

But there are two more doors you must pass before you enter the feasting hall. And there are two more gatekeepers who see the cherries, too, and have the same idea.

MID-WINTER MIRACLES: MUSICAL TALES FOR CHRISTMAS AND CHANUKAH

DEC. 1, 2019 at 3 pm at The Burren Backroom in Somerville MA. Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

TICKETS

MID-WINTER MIRACLES Show in MA this December 1st at The Burren Backrooom

I originally found it in a big red book I’d had since I was a child. In it, a dead cherry tree springs to green life in midwinter and produces miraculous cherries, a precious gift for the king indeed. But when an old knight tries to deliver them, there’s a knave at every doorway in the castle.

Turns out THE WINTER CHERRIES is among my listeners’ favorites. Softer-hearted folk cry at the end. I don’t blame them, really. Sometimes I do, too.

I’ll be telling THE WINTER CHERRIES along with other Holiday tales only once in Massachusetts this December as part of MID-WINTER MIRACLES.

 

The show is 3 pm on Dec. 1 at The Burren Backroom in Somerville, MA. Tickets are on sale now. Get yours for this fun family performance.

THEY FLEW FROM VIRGINIA TO HEAR GHOST STORIES IN NH

After my Heartpounders II Halloween Horror for Adults show at the Warner Town Hall in NH last Friday, two women in their late twenties came up to me.

“We flew up from Arlington Virginia for this,” one said.

Sometimes people travel distances to attend my shows, but that’s pretty far, I thought. “For this show?” I asked, wondering if I’d heard correctly.

“Yup. Two rental cars and an airplane,” said the other. “This is such a pretty area.”

I was still wondering if they were visiting local family or something and had heard about the show. “You’re saying you flew up from Virginia just to attend this performance. That’s it.”

“When we were kids, you came to a Zainy Brainy store in Arlington and did a show,” said the first. “Our moms bought your recordings. We grew up listening to them.”

Zainy Brainy was an upscale toy store chain back in the age of cassettes. I’d visited a few, but completely forgotten about it.

“We loved the story about the man chased by the thunderstorms.”

The Storm Breeder. Wow, well, I’m moved,” I replied, wishing I’d told it that night. “Thanks for coming all this way. What are your names?” They introduced themselves and we shook hands and talked a little bit more.

“Do you live near here?” asked one.

“Next town over, in Bradford.”

“It’s really beautiful up here,” said one. “Well, thanks for the show. It was amazing.”

And after a few more words exchanged, they left.

Days later, I’m still impressed.

I have one more Halloween Horror Show for adults this season, a different one, coming up this Friday the 25th at 7:30 pm. at the Sweet Beet, 11 West Main Street in Bradford, NH. Hopefully you won’t need to come as far to see it. I’ll be telling The Storm Breeder, oddly enough.

It’s outdoors, so bundle up and bring chairs. BYOB. Hot chili, hot cider, donuts and apple crisp will be on sale before, during and after the show, all made by the wonder chefs at the Sweet Beet.

The show features horror tales from colonial America, old Russia, Confucian China and a new mystery story yet to be performed at any of my Heartpounders shows. Music on 12-string guitars, alto recorder and Celtic harp. They are not suitable for young children.

TICKETS ARE $20.

This is the third annual Halloween storytelling at the Sweet Beet. Hope to see you there!

 

TONIGHT! ADULT HORROR TALES AT THE WARNER NH TOWN HALL

Come support the New Hampshire Telephone Museum tonight, Oct. 18, 2019 at 7 pm and prepare yourself for Odds Bodkin’s collection of terrifying tales for Halloween. Music on multiple instruments. Sound effects. Character voices. Stunning stories of the supernatural.

TICKETS $10 MEMBERS, $15 NON-MEMBERS

Not suitable for children under 14.

HORROR TALES IN BRADFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE ON OCT. 25TH

When Hanna and I first talked about it, there was no outdoor stage at 11 West Main Street, here in Bradford, New Hampshire, otherwise known as the Sweet Beet Cultural Center. At least that’s how I think of it. It’s not called that yet.

 

And so Pierre built me a stage up against the woods. It’s still there, three years later.

And when Hanna and I attempted our first fundraiser for the Sweet Beet—now a cluster of entrepreneurial ventures housed in the old inn, a rebirth of a time when our little town was a destination for horse and buggy tourists, but which inn has now been gloriously renovated by the Two Mikes (Mike Bauer and Mike James)—I said, “Well, if we can get around 150 people to show up at ten bucks a head, all the money is yours. Consider it my in-kind donation.”

That was Halloween 2017. Lo and behold, we had 150 crazy Bradford souls and other crazies from other towns show up, bundled in winter hats, gloves and blankets, eating chili, and generally settling in to hear the local storyteller tell some tales with guitars, alto recorder and harp.

Other than adding a mysterious new horror tale to this upcoming evening’s entertainment, I’ll be reprising my show of two years ago on Pierre’s stage this Oct. 25th at 7:30 pm. Please bear in mind that as a musician, performing outside in the cold is a challenge. Cold slows the fingers. However, it quickens the mind.

The Storm Breeder, a New England ghost legend. 12-string guitar.

The Panther Boys, a tale of lycanthropy from Confucian China. Alto recorder.

Treasure Trove, a deeply unsettling story from Old Russia. 12-string guitar.

And the new story, which shall remain as cloaked as a ghost. This will be its debut.

You’ve never heard it, because I’ve never told it.

 

Bundle up. BYOB. Hot food for sale. Braziers will be burning.

Odds Bodkin’s

HEARTPOUNDERS I +

Friday, October 25, 2019

7:30 p.m.

11 West Main Street, Bradford NH

TICKETS $20

A DEEPLY FRIGHTENING MYTH OF SURVIVAL

In the sparse life of the ancient Eskimos, a daughter who will not marry is a death sentence.

Sedna is just such a girl. No suitor quite suits her, not even when a mysterious stranger pulls up his kayak onto the pebbly beach and brags of his staggering wealth.

Sedna’s angry, aging father insists she go with the man to become his wife. With no choice in the matter, she slides down into his kayak.

As events unfold, both father and daughter end up in a situation that is beyond horror, beyond betrayal.

A dark, elemental tale from the traditional Inuit of the Arctic Circle, Sedna the Ocean Mother is possibly the scariest, most unsettling story Odds Bodkin tells. Especially for women. It is not cultural appropriation. It is cultural reverence.

This tale is performed with 12-string guitar and a few character voices, plus vocal effects of sea birds, gales and frantic paddling.

To benefit the New Hampshire Telephone Museum, which is a must-see on its own, Odds Bodkin’s Heartpounders II tales are for an adult audience only. Please do not bring children. Original acoustic music–much of it created live, on Celtic harp, 6-string guitar, and 12-string guitars–accompanies the stories.

Friday Oct. 18, 2019 at 7 pm/Warner Town Hall, Warner NH

TICKETS $10 MEMBERS, $15 NON-MEMBERS

A SAMURAI FACES FLYING HEADS

A former samurai who is now a Shinto priest, Kairyo knows all about the demons who appear after dark in the forests of Japan. If you stumble, the phantom dogs will attack you from behind. If you hear a baby’s cry near a river, it’s not a baby, no, you are being lured to your death by a wraithe that lurks in the water.

Of course, Kairyo has heard about the Rokuro-Kubi as well, demons who detach their heads at night to feed on field insects, mice and the delicacy of human victims, if they can entrap them.

It’s on a lost, stormy night in the mountain forests that Kairyo is late to the safety of a village, and meets the Rokuro-Kubi.

Four of them.

Come hear The Demon Heads, an old tale from Japan, and other tales of the supernatural at Warner Town Hall in Warner, NH, in an event to support the New Hampshire Telephone Museum.

Odds Bodkin’s Heartpounders II tales will give children nightmares and are not suitable for them. Acoustic music accompanies each story.

 

Heartpounders II

Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 at 7 pm

Warner Town Hall

Warner, New Hampshire

 

Tickets: $10 members, $15 non-members

A WEEK FROM TODAY, A NEW WORK IS BORN: Danika the Rose

A WOMAN’S CREATIVE IDEA

As a noted opera and chamber music singer, Jazimina MacNeil already had Dvorak’s Moravian Duets for women’s voices. Born of 19th Century Europe, the duets sang of landlords, vineyards, lost love and agrarian life, all accompanied by piano, and all sung in Czech, Dvorak’s native language. What MacNeil didn’t have was a vehicle, a way to feature the duets more often in concert performances.

She realized she needed a story and a storyteller.

A TWO-YEAR COLLABORATION

Odds Bodkin was performing in Concord, MA when MacNeil introduced herself and her idea. It struck him as a good one, so she sent him a recording of 23 Moravian Duets with printed lyrics in Czech and English. After a listen, he got back to her, “I think there’s a story in here, but to create it, I’ll have to change the established order of the duets,” he said, wondering if this might be a sacred cow in the soprano business. “Go ahead,” she said. Delighted with the reply, he entered the smithy of my soul, as James Joyce called the writing process, and started hammering away at a new adult fairy tale.

Two years later, the result is the premiere of Danika the Rose, a tale that feels ancient, but with a very modern edge. On the surface, it’s the story of a young peasant girl and a duke who is obsessed with her beauty. But Danika also delves into hidden communications with animals, the fraught relationship between loving them and eating them, and how ecological systems, once out of balance, can cascade into disaster.

That, and how even in a world of magic, a love triangle can explode into jealous darkness.

A NEW WORK FOR THE CLASSICAL CANON

Sung by MacNeil and Sarah Shafer, those Moravian Duets, now in their new order in a fresh score crafted by MacNeil, comment upon and emotionally deepen the tale. Even so, on their own, the songs are lively, sonorous and beautiful–the power of a great symphonic melodist, condensed into brief pieces.

Have the singer and the storyteller created a new classic?

Come answer that question for yourself on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at 4 pm in Bass Hall, Peterborough, NH. An ElectricEarthConcerts presentation.

Called “a consummate storyteller” by The New York Times, Bodkin will narrate and create characters and sounds during the performance, while Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer sing Dvorak’s glorious songs in Czech. Emely Phelps accompanies on piano.

TICKETS $30

 

ESCAPE FROM THE TOWER: Danika the Rose

A NEW SPOKEN-WORD STORY

In Danika the Rose, Danika’s tower rises two hundred feet in the air, and once she’s imprisoned there, her single window with its view of the meadows, forest and river is all that she has. It’s a sheer drop to the hard earth far below, and so when the Cuckoos swoop into her window to warn her that the Duke is coming up the stairs with murder in his heart, Danika fears for her life. There is no escape.

“Throw a blanket out your window!” the Cuckoos cry in their strange, slow tongue. The Duke and his men are outside the door. She hears his angry voice as the key enters the lock. Wondering what good a blanket can do, she hurls one out the window anyway.

“The Duke yells, “Open it!” and the lock turns.

Just when he bursts in, Danika sees a marvel appear in the air beyond her window.

 

A PREMIERE EVENT

Danika the Rose, a new performance work that combines Dvorak’s Moravian Duets for women’s voices with Odds Bodkin’s adult fairy tale told live, premieres Sunday Oct. 6th at 4 pm at Bass Hall, Peterborough, New Hampshire.

The songs are sung by Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer, while Emely Phelps accompanies on piano and Odds Bodkin narrates and creates character voices and sounds.

Tickets are $30. Seating is limited. Grab your tickets today at ElectricEarthConcerts.

BEWARE THE POACHING LAWS: Feudal Rules in Danika the Rose

AN ANCIENT TIME

When Danika first speaks to Dano the gamekeeper, he steps from the forest with a deer slung over his shoulders. Every day he supplies the Duke’s castle with venison.

In turn, she learns, Dano can hunt whatever he wishes in the Duke’s forest without falling afoul of the poaching laws. In the entire duchy, only Dano owns this privilege, which impresses her greatly. She has yet to fall in love with him, for it takes a summer’s conversations for her to do so, but once she does, her faithfulness to him drives the story of Danika the Rose.

That faithfulness is especially important during her three years in the Duke’s castle, when Dano has been sent away, and she goes from a pampered, privileged guest to a lonely prisoner in the tower.

PREMIERE OF A NEW PERFORMANCE WORK

As sopranos Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer interweave Dvorak’s Moravian Duets throughout, Odds Bodkin tells this original adult fairy tale with character voices and sound effects. Emely Phelps accompanies on grand piano. The story is told in English, the Duets are sung in Czech.

This new work of classical music and original storytelling premieres October 6, 2019 at 4 p.m. in Bass Hall in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Tickets are $30. Seating is limited. Buy your tickets today at ElectricEarthConcerts.

DANIKA THE ROSE: A TALE SPOKEN AND SUNG with Odds Bodkin, Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer

DEER AND THORNS

In young Danika’s river valley, her friends the deer have always kept the meadows clear of the dangerous brambles. If allowed to grow, these brambles produce long black thorns, like upright knives. But when, to impress Danika, the Duke launches a mass deer hunt and brings back more dead ones than the castle’s denizens can ever eat, all the animals who have survived the hunt escape across the Danube.

The Duke’s forest is now empty.

And the thorns begin to spread. The Duke comes to regret that.

 

A NEW PERFORMANCE WORK

Come listen to Odds Bodkin tell his original adult fairy tale with character voices and sound effects while sopranos Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer interweave Dvorak’s Moravian Duets throughout.

And hear an astonishing new Bodkin character voice—a bird who speaks in understandable chirps.

This new work of classical music and storytelling premieres October 6, 2019 at 4 p.m. in Bass Hall in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Tickets are $30. Seating is limited. Grab your tickets today at ElectricEarthConcerts.