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Poi Dog Pondering

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Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

Group Members: Susan Voelz, Abra Moore, Dag Juhlin, Bruce Hughes

All Music Guide:

The eclectic worldbeat/folk-rock outfit Poi Dog Pondering were formed in Waikiki by vocalist/guitarist Frank Orrall, violinist/vocalist Susan Voelz, and multi-instrumentalist Dave "Max" Crawford, the only constants in the group's history; sometimes swelling to upwards of ten members, the band has seen numerous personnel shifts. Named in part for a Hawaiian expression meaning "mutt," Poi Dog Pondering relocated to Austin, TX, and picked up a following through extensive touring; they released two EPs, 1988's Poi Dog Pondering and 1989's Circle Around the Sun, which attracted the attention of Columbia Records with their varied instrumentation, easygoing humor, and offbeat fusions of world musics and folk-rock. Columbia combined the two EPs for the group's 1989 self-titled major-label debut, which along with its slightly slicker follow-up, 1989's Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea, earned Poi Dog Pondering critical acclaim and a devoted cult following.

However, all was not well between Poi Dog Pondering and their label; Columbia rejected much of the band's demo material over the next two years, and only a couple of EPs were released. Volo Volo was finally released in 1991, but shortly thereafter, the band was dropped from Columbia's roster. Bandleader Orrall responded by putting the group on hiatus, moving its home base to Chicago, and substantially revamping the lineup; during the hiatus, Orrall put together his Palm Fabric Orchestra, while Voelz recorded solo material. When the group returned in 1995 with Pomegranate, their sound had gravitated slightly more toward dance music, a switch confirmed on their 1996 EP, Electrique Plummagram. In 1997, Poi Dog Pondering debuted their own Plate.tec.tonic label with the live set Liquid White Light. In 1999, they issued the electronic-tinged Natural Thing, followed by the similarly themed In Seed Comes Fruit in 2003. The band returned in 2008 with the soul-heavy 7.


Poi Dog Pondering is an American musical group, noted for its cross-pollination of diverse musical genres, including various forms of acoustic and electronic music. Founded in Hawaii in 1984 by Frank Orrall, initially as a solo project. In 1985 Orrall formed the first line-up of PDP to perform its first concert; at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. The band then embarked on a yearlong Street Performance Busking tour across North America, eventually settling in Austin, Texas in 1987, where they recorded their first three albums. In 1992, the band relocated once again, this time to Chicago, Illinois, where they began to incorporate Orchestral arrangements & elements of Electronic, House Music and Soul music into their Acoustic Rock style. The membership of Poi Dog Pondering has changed from album to album.

Hawaii / Street performing years; members[edit]

During the Hawaii years (1985–1986), the band had the following lineup:

Frank Orrall – Guitar, vocals, marimba, penny whistleAbra Moore – Guitar, vocalsSean Coffey – DrumsJohn "el John" Nelson – PercussionKalea Chapman – Guitar, vocalsJean Francois Berneron – Photographer, vocalsCliff Kamida – GuitarTed Cho – Mandolin, guitarJoe Espinda – Guitar, recording engineerMatt Miller - Bass, vocals

Austin years; members[edit]

During the Austin years (1987–1992), the band had the following lineup:

Frank Orrall – guitar, tin flute, drums, vocalsTed Cho – electric guitar, mandolin, bassDave Max Crawford – organ, trumpet, accordionDarren Hess – drum kit (1991–1992)Bruce Hughes – bassJohn Nelson – congas, maracas, tom-toms, background vocals (1989–1992)Dick Ross – drum kit (1987–1990)Adam Sultan – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocalsSusan Voelz – violin, guitar, vocals

Additionally, the records featured literally dozens of musicians credited as "Satellite Poi Members". Most prominent amongst these satellite members were vocalists Abra Moore & Malford Milligan, sound artist Ellen Fullman, drummer Sean Coffey and (on their third album) turntable operator Ashton "DJ Cassanova" Irons.

Beginning with that third album, 1992's Volo Volo, the band began to experiment with new musical styles, including fully incorporating DJ Cassanova into the line-up. Orrall's emerging interest in dance and house music led the band to relocate to Chicago in 1992, where it developed a loyal local following and was named best band by Chicago magazine in 1997 & "Best Pop and Rock Act" in the 2009 Chicago Readers Poll.

Early Chicago years; members[edit]

From 1993 to 1999, the band recorded the albums "Pomegranate" & "Natural Thing" and performed live with the following members in the lineup:

Frank Orrall – guitar, vocalsDave Max Crawford – keyboards, clavinetPaul Mertens – sax, clarinet, fluteSusan Voelz – violinDag Juhlin – guitarEddie Carlson – BassBrent Olds – bassTom Ray – BassNick Kitsos – DrumsSteve Goulding – drumsLeddie Garcia – PercussionArlene Newson – backing vocalsKornell Hargrove – backing vocalsRobert Cornelius – backing vocals

Satellite Members

Brigid Murphy – Alto SaxophoneJason More – BerimbauLloyd Brodnax King – Alto FluteKatherine Pisaro – Oboe

Mid Chicago years; members[edit]

From 1999 to 2013, (and for the album releases: In Seed Comes Fruit, "7" & "Audio Love Letter") the band had the following Members in the lineup:

Frank Orrall – vocals, guitar, piano, synth. vibes, drums, samples, sequencingSusan Voelz – violin, vocalsPaul Mertens – flute, sax, clarinetLeddie Garcia – congas, bongos, ganzas, bells, shakers, various percussionKornell Hargrove – vocalsRon Hall – bassRick Gehrenbeck – rhodes electric piano, clavinet, organ, synthesizersCharlette Wortham – vocalsAlison Chesley – celloCarla Prather – vocalsTim Gant – piano, synthesizersJohn "El John" Nelson – Percussion, drumsEarl A. Talbot – DrumsDan Leali – Drums

Current Poi Dog Pondering Line-up; members[edit]

Frank Orrall – vocals, guitar, piano, synth. vibes, drums, samples, sequencingSusan Voelz – violin, vocalsDave Max Crawford – organ, piano, trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, electric piano [Wurlitzer], clavinet, synthesizer, thereminJohn Nelson – congas, bongos, drums, various percussionTed Cho – Guitar, MandolinDag Juhlin – guitarKornell Hargrove – vocalsRon Hall – bassRick Gehrenbeck – rhodes electric piano, clavinet, organ, synthesizersCharlette Wortham – vocalsRobert Cornelius – vocalsCarla Prather – vocalsRyan Murphy – DrumsPaul Mertens – flute, sax, clarinet


Releases1.1 Early 4 track Cassette albums1.2 Studio albums1.3 Other Releases1.4 Live albums1.5 Compilations1.6 DVD Releases


Early 4 track Cassette albums[edit]
Poi Dog Pondering PDP X 1 (1984)Poi Dog Pondering Soliloqui PDP X 2 (1985)8 Songs by Poi Dog Pondering PDP X 3 (1985)Poi Dog Pondering Dig PDP X 4 (1986)
Studio albums[edit]
Poi Dog Pondering (1989)Wishing Like a Mountain and Thinking Like the Sea (1990)Volo Volo (1992)Pomegranate (1995)Natural Thing (1999)In Seed Comes Fruit (2003) (2008)Audio Love Letter (2011)Everybody's Got A Star (early 2015)
Other Releases[edit]
Fruitless (EP) (1990)Palm Fabric Orchestra (1994)Electrique Plummagram (Re-Mix Album) (1996)That's the Way Love Is (Re-Mix EP) (1999)
Live albums[edit]
Liquid White Light (1997)Soul Sonic Orchestra (2000)Live at Metro Chicago (4-CD set, paired with DVD release, Dec 21, 2012)
Sweeping Up the Cutting Room Floor (2001)The Best of Poi Dog Pondering (The Austin Years) (2005)
DVD Releases[edit]
Audio Visivo (2004)Live at Metro Chicago (2 DVD set, paired with CD release, Dec 21, 2012) ^ http://www.platetectonicmusic.com/id170.html^ http://www.platetectonicmusic.com/id170.html^ http://www.platetectonicmusic.com/^ http://www.platetectonicmusic.com/
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Tour Dates All Dates Dates In My Area

Date Venue Location Tickets
10.16.15 Vic Theatre Chicago, IL US
10.17.15 Vic Theatre Chicago, IL US
10.18.15 Vic Theatre Chicago, IL US