Poi Dog Pondering
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. ~ Steve Huey