“a consummate storyteller”–The New York Times
Sunday January 12 at 5 pm
Grendel’s Den, Cambridge MA
An hour and twenty-one minutes of magic.
Or, it comes with the EPIC DRIVE, along with all of Bodkin’s storytellings as mp3s.
Vikings drank mead from dawn til dusk, and so Grendel’s Den is offering Flights of Mead on their menu for January 12th’s Odds Bodkin adult storytelling performance of Beowulf: The Only One.
After all, Beowulf was a Viking who killed monsters while dining on honey cakes, brined bird’s eggs, strips of venison and dried fruits for dinner. Typical Viking fare.
Who knows what Viking delicacies Grendel’s Den is planning for that Sunday evening’s menu, but it’s sure to be spectacular. $50 VIP Experience tickets include special seating, a flight of 4 local and imported meads, a tasting menu of 4 themed dishes, and a printed mead glass for you to take home.
“one of the great voices in American storytelling”–WIRED
YOU SAVED US FROM BABY BELUGA
Sunday night I was down in Cambridge at Grendel’s Den warming up my harp and 12-string onstage for a telling of Beowulf when a tall gentleman with silver hair came over, looking somewhat shy. The place was full and new faces were in the audience. Along with the usual crew of fine fans, Harvard students and curious twenty-somethings, I’d noticed husbands and wives in their fifties or early sixties at the tables. Obviously this gentleman had something to say. I stopped playing and smiled at him.
“Am I interrupting you?” he asked. He was fit and had a nice smile.
“No, not at all. I’m just warming up. Good evening.”
“Good evening,” he replied and we shook hands.
“I just wanted to tell you, Mr. Bodkin, that you saved us from Baby Beluga,” he said in a sort of admiring seriousness. It didn’t take too long for me to process that, and so I smiled wryly and chuckled, suspecting I knew what he was saying. He went on. “My kids are in their thirties now and are jealous they can’t be here.”
“Why, thank you.” I’ve had similar conversations with other nice people like him.
“No, thank you,” he said. “Your stories got us through a lot of long trips when our kids were little. We had all your cassettes. Got them from Chinaberry Book Service.”
I used to do business with Chinaberry, a kids’ media operation out in California. Sold tens of thousands of recordings through them. This nice man’s wife, probably, had bought them, back when their kids were little. “Ah, yes,” I replied. “I’m glad your kids liked them. Tonight’s story is very different from those children’s recordings.”
“I expect so.”
“Can’t wait to hear it,” he said, sounding ready for some Viking wildness.
“Well,” I said, hitting a chord on the 12-string, “enjoy the show.”
“We will.” He returned to his seat at the bar next to a woman about his age. His wife, I assumed. The mother of the children he spoke of.
Baby Beluga! Baby Beluga!
The refrain from the song by Raffi echoed in my mind. I once met him, the man who wrote and sang that classic children’s song. A troubador from the Nineties, Raffi’s most famous song was Baby Beluga. He was the best-known of many musicians for young kids back then, a man who sang sweet, reassuring songs. I think of him as the Mr. Rogers of children’s music.
Back then I was selling recordings for young kids, too. Raffi always outsold anything I ever did, but then again, I wasn’t singing songs, which had a huge kids market before the advent of cellphones and iPad games. Instead I was telling stories, but even though they were for young children, they weren’t kiddie stories per se––stories about puppies and baby hedgehogs and so on. Nevertheless, lots of young children, including this gentleman’s who’d come up to say hello, apparently, had listened to them and had talked about them with their parents. I always tried to produce children’s media that didn’t make moms and dads lose their minds while listening to them, over and over again in their cars.
After the show I posed for photos with the man and his wife, along with a few other couples who proceeded to buy EPIC DRIVES. They wanted to send them to their grown children, they said, who now had kids of their own. Two young women in their twenties had listened to the Little Proto stories and loved them. A couple with their kids kept talking about The Blossom Tree, a Tibetan tale I tell, and I mentioned how I’ll be performing it in May as part of a weekend dedicated to the magic of trees, out in Colorado.
And so these stories I made a generation ago continue to make their way into the lives of a new generation, accomplishing a goal I always strove for: to make something that doesn’t quickly become marked as genre material of a former time.
I recommend Baby Baluga, too.
VOICE OF A MONSTER
I know it’s weird, but it’s fun. Enacting an eighteen-foot tall demon beast, Grendel. And playing his creepy music while doing it. A monster who eats Vikings, this Grendel cannot speak. He just feels. Essentially he’s a giant wolf who walks on two legs and no Dane can kill him because his fur repels all metal blades. It’s not until Beowulf arrives on a mission of mercy to rid an old king of the monster’s nightly visits that Grendel meets his match. Beowulf must use his bare hands in what I like to think, considering the limitations of storytelling, is a pretty darn good battle scene.
All in the mind’s eye.
Tomorrow night, Sunday March 11, 2018, I’ll be enacting Grendel and a host of other characters in my performance of BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE at Grendel’s Den club on Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. Showtime is 5:30 p.m.
Come eat Viking food and drink strong spirits as you listen. A full evening of adult storytelling, this show is a bit too graphic for children. Still, as Beowulf says, “Fate often saves an undoomed man if his courage holds.”
BEOWULF by Odds Bodkin: a live performance in an intimate setting.
A two-hour storytelling event for adults Sunday, March 4th at 7:00 p.m. at The Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire. Music on 12-string guitar and Celtic harp. Words in English.
Come and eat, drink strong spirits and enter an imagination dream.
“a consummate storyteller” ––The New York Times
“one of the great voices in American storytelling” ––Wired Magazine
Mostly the music haunts me. I still recall sitting out on my back porch under the sun umbrella one summer day trying to stitch the heartbreak together. “What can get at this tragic mood?” I kept asking myself, conducting experiments up and down the 12-string’s fingerboard. New chords I’d never played slowly revealed the sculpture-in-the-stone moment, the “ah ha!” release, when I finally said, “Wow. That’s it. That is beautiful. That has the dignity, the elemental loneliness and the magnificence I need.”
I was searching for a leitmotif for Beowulf the Viking hero. Having composed them for Odysseus in The Odyssey, David in David and Goliath, young Percival the knight in The Hidden Grail and other of my long-form bardic tales, musically it was a familiar creative process, but not emotionally.
You can get a flavor of Beowulf’s theme at 3:27 in this live recording of the tale.
I’ll be performing Beowulf: The Only One twice in the next weeks, and will be playing Beowulf’s theme and others as I do my best to enact him, King Hrothgar, Grendel the Beast and his vengeful monster mother. I still remember how when I recorded this tale live, the music worked. Two women in the audience felt the way I felt. Right there, in the middle of all those people, so loudly I heard it from the stage, they burst into tears.
Tickets and information:
First, little-known Viking lore accompanied with Celtic harp, and then BEOWULF: THE ONLY ONE, my storyteller’s version of the classic tale of a hero battling man-eating monsters. With a haunting score on 12-string guitar, I’ll narrate and create voices for Beowulf, King Hrothgar, Grendel the monster and his mother, and other characters.
It’s filled with a humor and terrifying tension that cleaves closely to the original tale.
Here’s a sample of the show:
The show is at Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Sunday March 4, 2018 at 7 p.m.
18 full-length storytelling albums on a single flash drive, age-coded for young children through adults, Odds Bodkin’s EPIC DRIVE puts the master storyteller’s tales in the palm of your hand. Plus, the EPIC DRIVE includes Odds’ newest creation, Beowulf the Only One, recorded live on Harvard Square before an adult audience (1 hr 20 minutes).
Just plug it in and load these mp3s onto your device. Share them with friends. Enjoy masterful voice characterizations, original music and Odds Bodkin’s uncanny vocal effects. You’ll hear classic myths, fairy tales and folktales, plus original stories brought to life by an artist the New York Times calls “a consummate storyteller” and Wired Magazine calls “one of the great voices in American storytelling.”
Thank you so much for the consideration and time to send this to me. Like your impact on myself and many people who have heard your stories, this means more than you know.
This is my fifth year teaching The Odyssey in my curriculum, and at the end of class, when I play your stories, I can see the scenes flash across my students’ faces as they listen. Ironically, many of my students have had troubled pasts and special needs, but I rarely see them so at peace as when we hear your tales. They’ll work their tales (sic) off to ensure that we get a daily dose of storytelling at the end of each period.
The demand has been so high, that I’ve had to find a way to cram some passages from The Iliad into the curriculum after the break (a quality problem for an educator to have)…and I think we’ll just have to do a Beowulf unit with some of the Sophomores.
I’m humbled and thankful to have received this help from you during such a busy time. I know many of your fans will be eagerly awaiting the chance to read your book!
Merry Christmas, and thank you so much once again,
-Peter R. Best