I can't remember the last time I practiced my Odyssey.
Sure, I'll run pieces of it to warm up or after a time off from performing it.
But actual practice? It's been probably a decade since I sat down and worked on it in a conventional way. Maybe after I didn't play it for over three years and came back to record and start performing it again in 2010.
That doesn't mean I'm not actively trying to get better at it: I know the piece so well, it's so in my blood and is such a part of me that my improvement comes by broadly improving at the things I need to perform it: becoming a better singer, guitarist, and performer in general.
It also means that improvement usually happens in times when I have a lot of performances, when I'm on the road doing the show every day or almost every day.
Because improvement also comes from how closely I can identify with the characters and the story. And doing one off shows from home makes that more challenging. I find when I'm experiencing something like the conditions my protagonist is (going around telling stories), the story becomes something else to me entirely: more vivid and real and I'm better able to convey the emotions and pathos with my voice and guitar.
The end of my spring slate of virtual epic performances finished with four Odyssey shows in eight days: one for Kenyon and three for Bowdoin College (for whom I performed in 2014). Actually, the three shows in four days was really where I started to feel my old routines and performance muscles fully return: this was the most I've done my Odyssey since February of 2020 when I did six shows in nine days just before the pandemic shutdown.
If everything goes according to plan, my next Odyssey show will be an honest-to-goodness in-person performance in Homer, Alaska, (Homer in Homer, get it?!) next month, my first since just after that run of shows in February of last year. Since then I've done 21 virtual Odyssey shows and 23 virtual Blues of Achilles shows. They've been amazing and feel so fortunate to have been able to continue performing under these conditions, but I'm very very ready to be back in physical rooms with audiences. I know I have at least one more virtual show this summer, but it seems like if the trends continue, I'll be able to resume traveling and touring (with both pieces) in the fall and even reschedule some of the exciting shows I had planned for 2020.
I wrapped up the third of my shows for Bowdoin on a Tuesday morning. The students (as they had been for the previous two shows) were phenomenal in their engagement and questioning. The professor (another UW Badger) was as gracious a host as there can be.
Afterwards I sat down to read book 2 of the Odyssey, having just embarked (as Telemachus does in book 2) on a full reading of the epic, a book a weekday.
This pace will have me (Zeus willing) wrapping up book 24 in Alaska on June 17...
To say I can't wait to finish this reading would be an epic understatement.