That’s Entertainment! New Odyssey – Three Guys, Thirty Instruments

How does a person even begin to explain the New Odyssey who performed last Saturday night at the Clausen Center in Holstein? As three extremely talented individuals; as an entity greater than its parts; or as an explosive bit of epic entertainment?

It may be best to go back to the original Odyssey which was the ten year wanderings of Odysseus after the fateful Trojan War. That man was famed for his craft, wisdom, and eloquence. These three new guys (relatively speaking) have been on their journey for over 30 years and are justly famed for their musical craft; their wisdom is adapting the show to any venue; and their eloquent mastery of the one liner, the quip, the bon mot. There is a compilation of Rolling Stone’s articles from the 60’s to the mid-eighties. The title seems to fit this group’s peripatetic trek – “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been”.

Their personal odyssey appears to take the form of barnstorming across the country having one heck of a good time entertaining the folks and making them laugh – then moving them to tears. Their act ranged from such raucous riffs as Tina Turner strutting across the stage on platform shoes with three inch heels to “Rhapsody in Blue” which, by the way, was phenomenal, to “Amazing Grace” with one of the sweetest trumpet solos ever heard.

Our local theatre was just one stop out of many for the New Odyssey but what a show stopper it was. “The best ever!” was one comment heard over and over. “I love these guys!” was another.

The night began with a patriotic medley with all vets present standing to be recognized. Some are getting up there in age and had a little trouble maneuvering themselves out of their seats; others rose with alacrity. No matter how they got up, they stood proudly and were generously applauded for their service. It was a beautiful tribute.

Then the show took a 180 degree turn by tearing into Jimmy Buffet’s parade of parrot head hits and the amazing audience participation of “DayO”. Was “Daylight come and me want go home” ever sung with more gusto or more near rabid enthusiasm? I hardly think so. “Do not deny my people their music!” hollered the drummer when the set was supposed to be over but wasn’t.

Gary Todd, Michael Jay, and Gary Polkow make up this eclectic troupe and they pack 30 instruments around with them where ever they go. It’s not just for show either; they actually play all of them – from the flute to the mighty tuba; keyboard to accordion; drums to baritone sax and about everything else under the musical sun. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and they served up a generous helping of same. “10 Songs in 10 Minutes on 30 Instruments” they announced with grandeur and proceeded to do just that. What a kick in the head that was.

Then to top it off, they gave as their encore the almost mythical “Old Time Rock and Roll”. There was multi-generational dancing in the aisles, my friends, and if you weren’t there, I’ll bet you’re wishing right now you had been. My advice to you is to lock in your tickets for the Clausen Center’s fourth season as quickly as possible. You won’t want to miss a thing!