Odds Bodkin Tells Love Stories at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

Down through the ages, certain stories have tried to capture the mysterious relationship between women and men––everything from Samson and Delilah to Antony and Cleopatra.  Plenty of lesser-known cultural attempts at capturing what trust and love mean are out there, too.

For Worlds Apart: Tales for Lovers, I’ve chosen two of my favorites from the lesser known side of folklore. A haunting, swelling musical theme on Celtic harp tuned to resemble a Japanese koto underlies The Crane Wife, the first tale in the final show of a series at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA this coming Sunday afternoon at 4:30 pm.

Osamu is a poor and lonely sail maker who can’t afford a wife. Living alone in his hillside hut above a salt grass marsh, he often sees the white cranes landing in the wind. He marvels at how it seems to be held in their wings. But when a fierce storm blows a white crane into his door, leaving it stunned, he sees one up close after he brings it inside, nursing it back to health. The bird’s black, shining eyes gaze up at him until he sets it free.

But the season of storms is not over, and a second tempest brings a frantic knocking on his door. Astonished to find a beautiful young woman standing there, soaked and shivering, he lets her in. The mysterious Yukiko will not tell him where she comes from, but she does not wish to leave, either, and so becomes Osamu’s wife.

All is well until they run out of food and she offers to weave him a magic sail to sell in the village, a sail that whispers wind itself and can propel a ship in calm air. Her one condition: never look at her as she works at the loom behind her privacy screen. At the heart of their relationship is her trust in him that he’ll never do it and look. Does he? Come see the show and find out what happens.

The second tale, The Dame Ragnell, originally written in the 14th Century, asks the universal question, “What does a woman desire most?” Sir Gromer, a dark knight who will kill King Arthur unless he can answer it, demands that the King solve it in a year’s time or die. Once he starts to think about it, Arthur falls into a depression. There are just too many answers. He has no clue.

Enter Sir Gawain, Arthur’s best friend and the handsomest of the Round Table men. He’s the most eligible bachelor at Camelot. The ladies-in-waiting have hot flashes as he walks by. They’re all in love with him.

Gawain laughs at the question and says, “I think it best to ask a woman, sire. Or many. We’ve got a year. Let us ride out and ask women everywhere what they desire most, even in foreign lands. Surely an answer will occur again and again. Tell that to Sir Gromer, my liege, and you’ll be free of this.”

Hopeful and excited, Arthur rides out in one direction with a book in which to write down the answers, and Gawain rides off in another. They interview thousands of women, of all classes, and write down their answers. But after the year is nearly out, Arthur and Gawain grow despondent. There are just too many answers. There isn’t one that stands out.

In three days Sir Gromer will cut off Arthur’s head  and Arthur’s code of honor obligates him to die––he’s given his word––unless he can answer the question. Alone, Arthur rides to the glade in Inglewood Forest where it all began and the most hideous woman Arthur has ever beheld appears on a fine pony. The Dame Ragnell knows the answer and will tell Arthur in time to save his life, but for a price. Sir Gawain must marry her of his own free will.

From there, the story becomes hilarious and very moving. Hope to see you there.

Tickets are here.

2017 Adult Storytellings at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA

Jan. 8: Odin and Thor Battle the Frost Giants: Viking Adventure Myths

Two epic Viking myths wrapped in little-known lore (Thursday is Thor’s Day; Wednesday is Wotan’s Day) told by Master Storyteller and Musician Odds Bodkin. First, Thor Meets the Frost Giants, a tale of magic and illusion as Thor and Loki journey to Utgard, capital city of their enemies. Then, The Mead of Poetry, the long tale of Odin’s search for the blood of his best friend who’s been murdered, his blood brewed into a wisdom-bestowing elixir. Told with 12-string guitar scores and Celtic harp musings, with character voices and vocal effects. Seating at 5:00 pm. Show begins at 5:30 pm.

 

Tickets $15 table seating, $10 bar seating. Get your tickets here. Continue reading “2017 Adult Storytellings at Grendel’s Den in Cambridge, MA”

Wednesday Nov. 9th in Boulder, CO: StoryEarth Debut Performance!

Have you ever heard of a performance that combines live storytelling of earth myths with multimedia and provocative new philosophy? Philosophy that tackles the challenge scientists face in telling the true story of climate change? If you haven’t, we’re not surprised, but nothing like StoryEarth has been done before and we want you there.

With Gaia theorist, scientist and naturalist Martin Ogle, I’ll be in Boulder, CO this coming Wednesday night to swap center stage back and forth, moving between ancient story and modern science. Why? To engage the audience (and a further ongoing conversation on Facebook here) with the question: “Do our ancient beliefs about our and earth’s origins serve us any longer?” Yes, it’s controversial, but then again, how humans envision our place in Nature determines how we treat it. Considering global weather, one could say that the Earth is annoyed with us these days. Everyone sees it. Mass migrations have begun as people flee drying regions.  Sea levels are rising. Storms are dumping unprecedented amounts of rain on places that used to be safe.

Serious as the topic is, the show is also going to be highly entertaining. I’ll be performing The Elf of Springtime on Celtic harp and Fall of the Titans, an epic piece with giant voices and a full score on 12-string guitar. And the event will be emceed by Kendra Krueger, nano-materials scientist and Colorado public radio personality.

Even if you’re not in Colorado, if you have friends in Boulder, Denver or nearby places, please share this blog post with them. If they go, I’ll bet they get back to you, excited at what took place.

StoryEarth and is sponsored by the Parent Engagement Network and Entrepreneurial Earth. Tickets @ $15 general admission and $12 for students are available at: https://www.parentengagementnetwork.org/odds-bodkin

TALES OF THE LAND! A Family Concert in Lafayette, CO on Nov. 2

Driving 12-string guitar music, rhythmic and elemental, joins the sound of a hammer striking rock to open Tales of the Land, a public family performance at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, Colorado on Nov. 2 at 6:30 pm. The first of four stories, this is a Japanese samurai tale, The Stonecutter. Enabled with powers of Nature, a human being misuses them, bringing droughts and floods to a helpless Earth.

Next, a tale from Africa. Hungry and thirsty animals stare up a giant tree at fruits filled with food and water. Only when the tree’s name is spoken will it drop its precious fruits. But remembering the name proves difficult for many animals who try. Told with African thumb piano, hilarious voices and water droplet sound effects, The Name of the Tree is one of my best family stories ever.

Next, I’ll bring out a Celtic harp leant to me for my Colorado tour by Dave Kolacny of Kolacny Music in Denver. Thanks, Dave! Always generous over my years of visiting the Front Range. The story is about Kelsa, a young woman who refuses to work with flax to make linen. It smells terrible when soaked and Kelsa can’t standing spinning. But when the Queen is misinformed––believing that Kelsa loves to spin––Kelsa’s head is on the line unless she can do it. That’s when the three strangest looking beings she’s ever seen appear in a beam of moonlight. Lush, fun harp music combined with crazy funny voices will have you laughing at The Full Moon Spinners.

For the finale, the most outrageous of all my participatory tales, Finn MacCool and the Big Man. It’s so much fun to play the Irish rhythms in this story on 12-string, mostly because the audience gets the beat right away and joins in. Not only that, they learn a crazy chant that we all roar out as Finn, his wife Una and Gall the Hairiest Fenian outwit the biggest man any of them have ever seen.

Tales of the Land is sponsored by Martin Ogle of Entrepreneurial Earth and the Parent Engagement Network.

There is no child who won’t have a great time at this show, not to mention a whole lot of bemused parents, especially with the magical lanterns that will fill the auditorium. If you’re out in the Denver area, mark your calendar! Tell your friends. This is a very special show!

Tickets are $10 or $39 for families (4-6 family members) and you can get them here.

DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL public performance Oct. 29

I don’t tell them often, these three stories. They’re just too unsettling. Still, for Halloween? The Storm Breeder, a New England ghost story, is about an angry man who goes up against Nature and pays an eternal price. The Panther Boys from China is a lycanthropy tale (think werewolves) that pits enchanted sons against their own father. Treasure Trove from Russia is like a wild Twilight Zone story where a greedy fool dons the skin of the Devil to scare an old man into giving up some gold. He regrets that.

Or, if there are too many young kids in the crowd, I’ll go with less graphic tales. I’ll just have to wait and see. DARK TALES OF THE SUPERNATURAL is coming Saturday, October 29th at 5:00 p.m. to the Town Hall in Warner, New Hampshire.

The stories are told with music on 12-string guitars and alto recorder. Lots of voices. Lots of really wild vocal effects, too.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Hope you can make it!