An Ancient Knowing of Trees

An Ancient Knowing of Trees

As modern people who with a chain saw can fell a sequoia eight feet thick in a few minutes, it’s hard to imagine the awe ancient people felt for big trees. Especially in a climax forest that stretched in Roman times from England’s north all the way to its south, covering all except hunting trails. To this day, the famed Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood remains a small patch of that vast woodland.

It was the same everywhere across the planet, of course, wherever trees grew. Different people walked beneath different ones, but it was the same awe. So it’s no surprise that myths honoring trees are universal.

In South America, the first palm tree grew from the body of a buried maiden. In India, trees were thought of as sentient beings. Living beneath massive oaks in Britain, the Druids were named after them, while further north, Vikings believed a giant ash tree held up the universe. Everything in the Garden of Eden was edible, except for the fruit of one tree. When the Buddha attained nirvana, he was seated beneath the Bodhi Tree.

To celebrate this parade of archetypes, I’ll be telling my best stories about trees for kids and parents this coming May 25th at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. Some tales are funny, filled with animal characters, while others run deeper. All are filled with characters, naturalistic sounds and music on 12-string guitar, Celtic harp and more.

It’s an ideal family show for any parent who wants their child to respect living things.

Check it out here and get your tickets early!

 

–Odds Bodkin

 

With all of the sounds he was able to make, the unique voices of each person, and intricate guitar playing…it was unbelievable.

Martha Taylor, Chair of Classics at Loyola University Maryland, passed this note on to me after an Odyssey performance last September. It was written by a college freshman.

“I didn’t know what to expect and I was completely blown away by the whole thing. The way he told the stories was so captivating! With all of the sounds he was able to make, the unique voices of each person, and intricate guitar playing…it was unbelievable. With all of the sensory details he provided it really was as if I was there, during ancient times, transported to 700 B.C. in the “Belly of the Beast” so to speak.

I absolutely loved his Polyphemus voice, the old man/priest in Apollo’s temple who gave Odysseus the brandy, the men who accompanied him during the travels, the people in the lotus flower scene within the ivy of the sickly-sweet perfumed island–everything! The way he created such a vivid scene made imagining a transcendent and effortless gift.”

I’ll be at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square, February 11th at 5:30 p.m., to tell this tale again, with Celtic harp and 12-string guitar.

Catch some adult storytelling this February. THE ODYSSEY: BELLY OF THE BEAST at Grendel’s Den.

Tickets at tables are $15.

Tonight! THE WINTER CHERRIES: Holiday Tales of Giving in NH

Tonight at Harvey Mitchell Memorial Library in Epping, New Hampshire at 6 p.m. Odds Bodkin will perform THE WINTER CHERRIES, three heartwarming tales for the Holidays.

An Arthurian tale.

A Chanukah story.

A song-filled German folktale.

With music on Celtic harp and two 12-string guitars. Free to the public.

If you can’t make it, enjoy the magic by downloading THE WINTER CHERRIES.

 

Happy Holidays!

THE HARVEST: STORIES OF THANKSGIVING Coming Up. Free Admission!

Featuring a new collection of tales and free to the public, these shows are coming up November 2nd at 6 pm at Ossippee Public Library in Ossippee, NH and on November 4th at 1 pm at Scarborough Middle School in Scarborough, ME, sponsored by Scarborough Library.

These three stories from around the world are filled with music on Celtic harp, 12-string guitar and African thumb piano. Each explores traditional harvests and how people felt about them and features character voices, vocal effects and audience participation.

Great for kids, adults and families, the show includes a Swedish tale, a Togo story and a hilarious Italian fairytale. Come catch some Odds Bodkin magic to welcome in the Thanksgiving Season!

To learn more, visit https://www.oddsbodkin.net/calendar/

Plus, in Suffield, CT, you can catch the last SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES show of the season at Kent Memorial Library in Suffield at 1 pm!

SPOOKY TALES SHOWS at NH Libraries This Week! Free to the Public.

What other storytelling show is spooky but let’s you howl like a steam train’s whistle? Or thunder your hands in rhythm as supernatural horses chase a little boy? For Halloween, it’s FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES coming up this Thursday and Friday in New Hampshire.

Thursday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. you can hear them at Bethlehem Public Library in Bethlehem, NH.

Friday October 27 at 3 p.m. you can hear them at Dunbarton Public Library in Dunbarton, NH.

Music on 6 and 12-string guitars and Celtic harp. A ghostly train tale from Colorado, a scary story from French Canada, and a wild adventure fairytale with witches from Italy make this kid-tested show tons of fun. Appropriate for young children.

Both shows are free to the public!

FUN SPOOKY TALES at WARNER TOWN HALL in NH October 28th

If “Imagination is more important than knowledge” as Einstein said, then pulling children from screens and urging them to use this natural human gift is a key parenting tool these days. Spoken word storytelling, especially with live music, hyper-stimulates kids’ minds, urging them to imagine. This builds neural networks that mature into creativity as they grow up.

With all that said, these are fun stories, too. Spooky, but child-manageable. The Banshee Train, The Girl Who Danced with the Devil and The Little Shepherd are the stories in this one-hour show. Music on 6-string guitar, 12-string and Celtic harp add to the enchantment.

This coming Saturday, October 28th at 3 p.m. I’ll be performing Fun Spooky Tales for Young Families. The show is sponsored by Schoodacs of Warner. Grab a great coffee or tea there and then step next door to the Town Hall!

Tickets are $10. Hope to see you there!

ADULT HORROR STORIES RECORDING EVENT at GRENDEL’S DEN

Years ago I made a recording called Dark Tales of the Supernatural and sold it on cassette. When I switched over to CDs and then to digital recordings (www.oddsbodkin.net/shop) I left it out. Mostly due to production values.

Over the years I’ve received numerous requests for it, and so this October 29th at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA, I’ll be recording a new version live.

Lycanthropes and wraiths, not to mention the Devil––both imitated by a fool and as a very real presence on the dance floor––comprise the four horror stories in this show. Plus the origins of Halloween, going all the way back to the Druids of ancient England and Julius Caesar’s comments about them in 55 B.C.

First, Rose Latulippe and the Devil, a French Canadian story deceptively scored with lovely Celtic harp music, even as Rose dances closer and closer to the elegant man with claws in his gloves. Unaware that her body parts are falling away, she just keeps dancing.

Next, The Storm Breeder, a classic New England ghost legend about how Jonathan Dunwell of New York received the hideous burn scar across his neck in the shape of a gripping hand. Wind, whiplashes, horse gallops and driving 12-string effects weave in and out of vivid characters in this tale.

In Eastern Europe they’re werewolves, in Russia, werebears, but in China, they’re werepanthers. In The Panther Boys, two fine young sons are cursed to take the skins of seven men of their village by turning to supernatural night cats. Kill they do, but the tale turns terrifying when their father realizes they must come for him next. This tale is told with creepy, wind-blown alto recorder and panther screams.

Last comes Treasure Trove, a tale from Russia’s serfs. It’s too dark and brooding even to begin to describe, other than there’s vodka, a funeral and hoof-prints of the Cossacks. That and it features a human devil.

HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror begins at 5 pm Sunday October 29th at Grendel’s Den on Harvard Square. Spooky specialty foods and drinks will make it even more fun for these adult storytellings, all scored throughout with original music.

Come be part of a live recording event and enjoy some imagination entertainment for Halloween!

Tickets are $15 table seating and $10 at the bar.

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.

Odds Bodkin presents FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES in Sanbornton and Hopkinton NH this Weekend!

Gafney Public Library will host FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES Saturday morning, Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Wakefield Opera House in Sanbornton, NH.

Hopkinton Public Library will host FUN SPOOKY TALES FOR YOUNG FAMILIES on Sunday, October 15th at 4 p.m. in Contoocook, NH.

Both hour-long shows are free to the public and filled with child-safe Halloween stories. Bring the kids, even the little ones! Music on 6-six guitar, 12-string guitar and Celtic harp. Children are invited to make sounds and rhythms during two of the tales.

Lots of fun!

DRUIDS AND HALLOWEEN: Heartpounders Show Tonight in Nashua, NH

As part of the introduction for tonight’s show, HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror, I’ve be delving into some ancient history. Albion, the old name for England, which means “the white land” (probably because of the chalk cliffs of Dover), when Julius Caesar arrived to conquer it, was a pagan land. People believed in nature spirits, living in a land of mostly forests. This was centuries before the Vatican sent its missionaries to convert the druidical people living there to Christianity.

Caesar wrote about the druids, the priests of the time. They believed that mistletoe was magical, since it lived in clusters on oak tree branches without any visible root systems. They built giant wicker cages in which they burned alive slaves and enemies during a harvest celebration called Samhain. Modern witches still celebrate Samhain. “Witch” derives from the same root words as “wicker”, “wicked”, “willow” and other words, which in their day referred to the ability to use natural herbs to heal (willow contains salicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin).

When the leaves fell and the darkness of winter approached, Celtic people believed that the boundary between the living and the invisible forces beyond the grave thinned out. Every manner of ghost, goblin and bogie was able to cross over into the world. Rituals to keep them at bay were held at this time of year.

Fast forward to today. Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve (during the later Christianization of the British Isles by Vatican prelates, they did their best to stamp out this night of primitive beliefs by declaring it sacred, or “hallowed”) has proven to be a tough root to pull out. In America at least, this ancient rite is still animated by parties, costumes and monsters.

Tonight’s show of very scary stories with music begins at 7 pm at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH. It’s not meant for children.

Music is on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and alto recorder.

Tickets

TWO SHOWS IN NH THIS WEEKEND/No Cellphones Required

“Smartphone dystopia” is a term recently coined by Google engineers who now send their young kids to elite Silicon Valley schools that ban smartphones and iPads. Read about that here.

To completely escape smartphone dystopia, at least for an hour, tonight I’ll be performing a story show, THE HARVEST: Tales of the Land at 6 pm in Gilford, NH for the Belknap County Farm Bureau. My audience: farmers. Three disarming and insightful adult stories, with echoes of the Monsanto vs organics war. It’s a private function.

However, Sunday night’s show at 7 pm is public. HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror unfolds at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH. Composed of the grittiest, most unsettling supernatural tales I know, the show includes mythic material from New England, Russia, China and other far flung places. It also explores Samhain, the old Celtic celebration, and how it was turned into All Hallow’s Eve by the Church during the conversion centuries following St. Patrick’s and others’ arrivals among the Druid pagan sacrificers of Northern Europe.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $13 at the door.

You’ll have a chance to enjoy your natural imagination at work, without a single “Like” button.

Have a great weekend!

FAMILY STORIES EXTRAVAGANZA at The Livery in Sunapee NH this Friday!

Odds Bodkin’s best family-friendly stories come to The Livery in Sunapee, NH this Friday, August 11th at 7 p.m. With Celtic harp, 12-string guitars and other instruments, Odds uses character voices and natural sound effects to create “imagination movies” for listeners.

Come join the fun!

Tickets are $10 adult, $5 children, $25 for a family of 4. Get them here!