A Stolen Ring and an Unwanted Kiss

An unsophisticated youth out in the world for the first time, Percival comes upon a young woman in a knight’s pavilion. His mother’s words come into the country boy’s mind, “If a lady gives you a kiss, ‘tis a great honor. If she gives you a ring, ‘tis a double honor.”

Stupidly, he forces her to kiss him and pulls off her wedding ring, thinking he’s now been honored. Instead, he’s ruined her life, although he does not know it. Not until much later in the epic, when he meets her again with her angry husband (he thinks she’s been unfaithful), does Percival return the ring and confess what he’s done.

If modern boys do not know how to treat women with courtesy, perhaps they haven’t yet heard The Hidden Grail: Sir Percival and the Fisher King, Odds Bodkin’s 90-minute Arthurian tale about chivalry.

Billboard writes “one of the best spoken-word stories we’ve ever heard.” The reviewers were a mother/daughter team.

Get it here or as part of the $99 download special at Odds Bodkin’s Shop.

 

HOWL LIKE A BANSHEE, WHISTLE LIKE A TRAIN this Saturday in MA!

Mercer is the engineer. O’Reilly is the fireman who shovels coal next to him in the engine’s cab. Only these two men behold the banshee, the fairy woman who warns of death, wailing in the air above Irish homes.

Only this isn’t old Ireland, this is Colorado, and a phantom steam train is chasing them through the high Rockies. The banshee is there, however, only this time she’s in the black plume of smoke above their pursuer. Between her behind him and a washed out bridge up ahead, Mercer must make a decision. What does he do? Come hear The Banshee Train, based on my children’s book, accompanied by fine flat-picked bluegrass guitar, and find out.

Not only that, we’ll learn to whistle like a train and howl like a banshee as part of this music-filled story. Kid tested. Lots of fun.

Two more fun, spooky tales with happy endings fill out my upcoming show at The Burren in Somerville MA this coming Saturday, October 21st at 4 p.m.

Other music on Celtic harp and 12-string guitar.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door.

FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES at The Burren in Somerville, MA

The Burren is a fine music venue, and since Tom Bianchi’s kids grew up listening to my stories (he books shows there), he’s invited me to perform this October 21st, Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Having worked with kid audiences for decades, I know they’re sensitive to good and bad, even good and evil, but are much too sensitive for truly frightening stories. Like the rest of us, they love to be just a little scared, but not so much that they have bad dreams afterwards. And so for this Halloween season, I’ve created a new storytelling show just for them and their parents.

FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES features three tales, one based on The Banshee Train, a children’s book I wrote, one from Danny Kaye’s Around the World Storybook, and the last a galloping Italian fairytale with a witch who is roundly defeated by magical helpers who aid a little boy on a quest.

The Banshee Train, with a flat-picked country score on guitar, tells of a trainload of people saved by a banshee in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Kids learn all about steam trains in the process. The guitar playing is worth the price of admission, I’ll bet.

The Stranger at the Dance is a French Canadian story about a girl who almost disappears when Old Scratch, the devil, shows up at a barn dance. Because he’s well-dressed and handsome and she doesn’t know who he is, she dances with him. Luckily she’s saved by her fiancée and the village priest, and the devil is thrown out. It’s performed with a beautiful score on Celtic harp.

The Little Shepherd is a rollicking participatory adventure about a boy cursed by a witch never to grow an inch until he finds a mysterious fairy inside a singing apple. Wild vocal effects, hilarious character voices including tiny fairies and a fun participatory score on 12-string guitar makes this a slightly spooky, but mostly delightful tale, a great way to end this show of child-safe Halloween stories.

Hope to see you there. Please let friends with young kids know about this unique performance!

Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door available here.

 

 

 

BACK TO THE CEMETERY: Heartpounders Horror Tales on Friday the 13th

Is it an old haunted inn? It looks that way. Abandoned for years, it sat overgrown and neglected, a hulking eyesore on Main Street in Bradford, New Hampshire, my town. Weeds grew. The old sign faded. I drove by it every day.

But then a group of young people in town had a dream. Now its ground floor is a thriving locavore food heaven, filled with organic produce and meats, ice creams and locally-made specialty items.

Today when I drive by it’s the Sweet Beet Market, and even bigger dreams surround it. A bakery. A new arts venue. A commercial kitchen for food artisans. On weekends, the parking lot is filled with cars. Folks eat freshly made breakfasts, cooked up on the wraparound veranda as families sit at picnic tables. At this time of year, artfully piled pumpkins have turned the place orange. The old inn has come alive.

To help with this Kearsarge Food Hub project, I’m donating the scariest show in my repertory this coming Friday the 13th at 8 pm, an outdoor event with jack-o-lanterns glowing, under the big tent. HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror is an adult evening of stories. No kids, please. Mini-horror movies for the mind’s eye, these tales have entertained audiences from Lincoln Center in New York to the National Storytelling Festival. Each with driving music on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp, and other instruments, plus lots of creepy character voices and sounds, they’re unnerving and fun. The show is two hours.

Hot cider. Good hot food. On a cool October evening beneath the waning moon, these stories will come to life, or horrible death (agh!!!) depending on how you like it.

If you know folks in New Hampshire, please let them know. Nothing like this anywhere else in the Granite State.

Tickets are $10, $12 at the door.

Check it out on Facebook.

Eclipse Tales south of Boston tomorrow at 3 pm!

If you’re free or know anyone who is tomorrow, Thursday August 10th at 3 pm, come hear WHEN THE MOON DANCED WITH THE SUN: Tales for an Eclipse! at the Dighton Public Library in Dighton, MA. The performance is free to the public and appropriate for families. Fun music, amusing and amazing stories, plus a little info about the upcoming eclipse!

A Family Stories Extravaganza at The Livery at Sunapee Harbor NH August 11!

Get your tickets now for Odds Bodkin’s FAMILY STORIES EXTRAVAGANZA for this coming Friday night, August 11th! Hosted by The Livery at Sunapee Harbor , Odds’ fingers will fly across his Celtic harp, 12-string guitars and other instruments as he tells his best, family friendly tales. Wild character voices, uncannily real vocal effects and narrative combine to create imagination entertainments parents and kids always love.

Called “a consummate storyteller” by The New York Times and “one of the great voices in American storytelling” by Wired, Odds invites you not only to listen, but to sing along if you like, create rhythms and simply have fun. Stories from all around the world with music to match!

Tickets are $10 adult, $5 children, $25 for family of 4 here.

“I Cannot Stop Listening”

Simon Brooks is an Englishman and fellow professional storyteller. He recently wrote a review of my latest epic audio story, Beowulf: The Only One. I’ve excerpted it below.

“Like all of his work, Odds Bodkin’s ‘Beowulf’is deep, funny, and brilliantly told. Odds’ version is entertaining and pulls you in so you cannot back away from it… I have listened to it several times. In fact I am at the point where I cannot start it unless I have the time to finish it all. I cannot stop listening to the words and music which flow so wonderfully throughout the hour and twenty minutes or so it lasts.”

Want a good story to listen to? Told for adults? You can listen to a sample and buy it here.

Happy Summer! And thanks, Mr. Brooks.

It’s No Fun To Wake Up in the Underworld

Hercules is not pleased. He’s just been burned alive on a funeral pyre he himself ordered. Expecting to wake up on Mt. Olympus, instead he’s standing before Hades and Persephone, King and Queen of the Dead. He’s been diverted to the Underworld. Why? Because Persephone craves news of the living and won’t let Hercules go until he tells his life story. Furious at this trick, Hercules makes empty threats until he reluctantly agrees, and so begins his epic, tragic tale.

 

This is Odds Bodkin’s approach to the Greek myth of Hercules. With a surging score on 12-string guitar and voices for Hercules, Hades, Persephone and other characters, Bodkin offers this evening’s entertainment this coming Sunday, June 25th in an intimate setting at the Riverwalk Café and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Bring a friend and get ready for some adult imagination.

 

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Great food and cocktails, too.

Epic Hercules Performance in NH/Odds Bodkin/Sunday at 7pm

Intense, vivid storytelling for adults comes to the Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH this coming Sunday night, June 25,  at 7 pm. Join Odds Bodkin and his 12-string guitar (and eat great food and enjoy drinks) for Hercules in Hell, Bodkin’s epic rendition of the Greek mythological hero’s life.

Upon hearing this story, a woman who’d never heard Bodkin commented after the show, “I was utterly mesmerized.” It’s fun imagination entertainment with a beautiful score on guitar and voices for Hercules, Hades, Persephone, and many others. Cinematic in scope. With plenty of humor, too.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

HERCULES IN HELL/Odds Bodkin in Nashua, NH Sunday June 25th at 7 pm/Mythology Intro on Celtic Harp

Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin will perform Hercules in Hell, an epic story for adults, at the Riverwalk Music Bar this coming Sunday. Scored with 12-string guitar and introduced with a Celtic harp accompaniment, this is the myth of Hercules as few have heard it. His teenage rages and teacher murders. How he loses his mind and kills his wife and children. The only escape from his guilt the gods offer? Twelve Labors, done for a despised and weak cousin who orders Hercules to kill the Hydra, capture a stag only the virgin goddess of the hunt may touch, drive off giant birds with brass feathers, on and on. Greek mythology for grownups.

Performed with character voices and vocal effects, this is pure imagination entertainment.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Get them here.

Absolutely Gushing

The highest hilltop in Greenwich, Connecticut is the location of Sacred Heart, a fine school for girls. On the sunny day I was there last week, Long Island Sound was visible in the distance. In the school’s big empty auditorium, as I warmed up my 12-string guitar to perform The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast, the doors were open. The PA was blasting and the music was lyrical, and as I played onstage I noticed girls peering in from the hall to listen. It takes me a half hour of playing to ready my hands for the seventy-minute story, and whoever’s in earshot gets to listen. They smiled and waved and I waved back. Sacred Heart School enrolls elementary through high school girls, and I’d been told by Megan, the English teacher who’d brought me in, who I’d not met before, to expect 5th and 9th graders. 5th was studying Greek mythology. 9th was reading The Odyssey.

 

So to give them something to listen to as they filed in, I decided to play them an overture. It’s a free-flowing exploration of my story’s musical leitmotifs. The 5th and 9th graders sat, but then other grades began to arrive. 4th graders, I found out later during the Q&A, 7th graders, and others. The auditorium kept filling up, which was fine with me, of course. I think it was the music’s Siren Song that wooed them in. That and a very civilized faculty willing to let them go, I suspect.

 

Afterwards I drove home on the Merritt Parkway in rush hour traffic and arrived back in New Hampshire five hours later, somewhat bedraggled and too tired to wonder how the show went. The next morning I received this email. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if things go well. That afternoon, I think things did.

Dear Odds, 

This morning all of the students arrived to school absolutely gushing about yesterday’s performance. In my classes this morning, all the girls wanted to discuss the wonder of the performance. We were all absolutely captivated. It was a magical and transportive experience. Thank you so much for giving us such a gift. We hope you will be able to visit us again. 

Kind Regards,
Megan Monaghan

 

Megan gave me permission to share her letter. Reactions like this remind me of why I got into this business, and I’m still in it, enjoying every rarefied moment. It’s an aesthetic delight for me, and kids never forget this show. If you know anyone who’d like to invite me to tell The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast at any elementary, middle school, high school or university, send them to this link. Kids don’t forget it. Why? Because their Muse has been summoned. It shocks them, since often it’s the first time they discover they’ve got one.

ADULT STORYTELLING IN CAMBRIDGE, MA: HERCULES IN HELL

“Oh, Hercules, I find your story so exciting!” effuses Persephone, Hades’ unhappy wife. Hercules has landed in the Underworld, a place he didn’t expect to be.

 
“Do you?” he asks, disgusted at the situation. He’s been telling his life story in order to get out of here and go to Olympus. Persephone, Hades’ unwilling wife, longs for news of the living, which until a moment ago Hercules was. But now he’s dead.

 
Hades doesn’t like his wife’s tone. “Oh, hold your heart back, Persephone,” he says jealously, wondering if this confession business was a good idea. He tries to make Persephone happy, but considering that he’s raped, abducted and imprisoned her here in the Land of the Dead, it’s a hard sell. She hates him. “He won’t be here long.”

 
Hercules has lived a hard, terrifying life. The last thing he wants to do is remember it for these two. “Let me go now and I’ll stop right here,” he growls sarcastically.

 
“Calm yourself,” Hades demands.

 
“Calm myself,” he retorts, getting angry. “Do you think it makes me calm to sit here and tell all this to you two dreary souls?” His voice has risen.

 
“Hades, he is rude!” she complains.

 
“Uh, yes,” Hades responds, “Hercules, shades like you typically do not speak here. If you’d like me to remove your voice…”

 
“No, no, no, I’ll calm myself,” the dead hero replies. “Oh, yes. I learned to do it. Took a long time…”


This is the fictional setting I use to tell the myth of Hercules. Only the characters speak. There is no narration from me. Just Hercules, Hades, Persephone and a host of other voices from Hercules’ sad, shattered life. That and a full, ongoing score on 12-string guitar with an introduction on Celtic harp. The tale is a long one, but it’s filled with humor, tragedy, adventure and in the end, hope. And I hope you’ll join me this coming Sunday evening, April 23rd at 8 p.m. in Cambridge, MA to hear it and imagine along with me. The venue is Grendel’s Den. Enjoy a mythic Greek meal, good drinks and some adult storytelling!
Tickets are here.