Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Poi Dog Pondering - Live Compilation (2002-2009)

Poi Dog Pondering
Live Compilation (2002-2009)
Audience recordings, varying quality but generally good to very good
mp3@ 128 to 320 kbps.

Poi Dog Pondering is a great, eclectic, one-of-a-kind band featuring diverse musical influences, ethnicities, and sounds all put together into a mesmerizing rockin' good time and dance party. This fiercely independent and original band does things very much their own way, blending all kinds of music, rock and soul, orchestral, acoustic, and electronic textures, Americana, folk, dance, and various International influences into a lively, fun mix. I first heard about these guys around 1990, when they were making a name for themselves (particularly around the Midwest) based primarily on their incredible live shows. I was fortunate enough to see them a couple times in the early '90's, and have been a fan ever since (This is one of those bands that anyone who ever sees them live becomes a fan, there just isn't any other option, at least back in those days - I can't vouch for the more recent lineups). They just had so much energy, enthusiasm, and just rollicking, good-time, quirky songs, their concerts were just such big, fun parties. They have always been a large group (ranging anywhere from 7 to 14 members) and their sound has always strongly featured violin, horns, percussion, whistles, etc., in addition to the more usual vocals and guitars. Originally formed in Hawaii in 1986, they moved to Austin, TX the following year, where they developed their style and a devoted following. Their first 2 albums (Poi Dog Pondering-1988 and Wishing Like A Mountain, Thinking Like The Sea-1990) are classics, as well as their 3rd, Volo Volo (1992), which, although has a more straight-forward, harder rock edge (at the urging of their record label), it still has the Poi style and magic, and it rocks! In 1992, they relocated again, this time to Chicago, where they became local legends around town, and continued doing things their own way. And they have been there ever since, continuing to perform and record old and new music, for over 25 years now. Over the years the lineup has changed quite a bit, and there have been various side treks through still other musical influences, including such divergent elements as new age and electronic house music, but the core style and sound of the group and key personnel have remained, lead as always by dynamic lead singer, songwriter, and spiritual guru Frank Orral, with Susan Voelz on violin and vocals, and El John Nelson on various percussion. Some other original members that left the group in the mid-nineties have come back to re-join over the last few years, including guitarist Ted Cho and multi-instrumentalist Dave Max Crawford (horns, keyboards, accordian, etc.). Their albums are all still available from their official web site (on their own label):, and their most recent album, '7', was released in 2008. Unfortunately, there are very few live shows of their music available, particularly from those peak early '90's years. However, one of their devoted superfans, John B. Prentiss IV, has spent the last several years going to as many of their shows as possible, recording many of them, and he has a fan web site that features concert info, photos, and selected songs from many of those shows. Although he has not made any complete shows available, he does have over a hundred individual songs collected from various shows available for download. Although these songs are all from more recent shows 2002-2009, they still perform most of their old songs from the Austin days. Thus, from these, I have compiled some of my favorites (heavily weighted toward the older songs I know and love best) into an ersatz Poi Dog Pondering Concert Compilation. You can check out all the songs and info at John's Poi Dog Pondering fan web site at: The overall quality of these audience recordings is pretty good, but not the greatest (abundant audience noise on some), but they still give a good representation of the overall sound and songs. So, thanks, JPBIV for all your work in making these available. Anyway, I just want more people to find and be aware of this wonderful band and their music. I hope those that are not already familiar with Poi Dog Pondering will check these out, enjoy them, and then get more of their music (Wishing Like a Mountain... is still one of my all-time favorite albums), or perhaps even see them live, if they ever get the chance.

1. Pulling Touch (2006-07-09 - Milwaukee - Summerfest)
2. The Hardest Thing (2006-07-09 - Milwaukee - Summerfest)
3. The Watermelon Song (2004-12-31 - Chicago - Park West)
4. Be The One (2009-04-10 - Marionette Park, IL - 115 Bourbon St)
5. Jack Ass Ginger (2006-07-09 - Milwaukee - Summerfest)
6. Complicated (2002-07-27 - Chicago - Metro)
7. Big Constellation/Shu Zula Za (2006-09-29 - Chicagp - Metro)
8. Postcard From A Dream (2003-10-09 - San Francisco - Great American Music Hall)
9. Everybody's Trying/Simple Song (2002-12-06 - Naperville, IL - Frankies Blue Room)
10. Jealous (2007-12-31 - Chicago - Double Door)
11. Lackluster (2007-12-31 - Chicago - Double Door)
12. I've Got My Body (2006-12-31 - Chicago - The Vic)
13. Living With The Dreaming Body (2003-10-13 - Seattle - Graceland)
14. Tabouche Est Tabou (2005-10-08 - Chicago - Symphony Center)
15. Fruitless (2004-07-15 - Austin, TX - Antone's)
16. Into The Mystic (Van Morrison) (2008-04-11 - Three Oaks, MI - Acorn Theater)
17. Sandra at the Beach (2002-07-27 - Chicago - Metro)
18. Thanksgiving (2005-11-25 - Chicago - Double Door)
19. Sticky (2006-12-31 - Chicago - The Vic)
20. Itchycoo Park (Small Faces) (2006-09-29 - Chicago - Metro)
21. Signed Sealed Delivered (Stevie Wonder) (2009-04-10 - Marionette Park, IL - 115 Bourbon St)
22. Wood Guitar (2004-07-15 - Austin, TX - Antone's)
23. Bury Me Deep/This is the Sea (2002-12-06 - Naperville, IL - Frankie's Bue Room)

All songs recorded by J.B. Prentiss IV and compiled from his web site (

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have LOVE'd Poi Dog Pondering since I bought their first album in the late 80's, though regrettably I never had an opportunity to hear them live. I was excited to see these live shows available on your blog but unfortunately, the links are not working for me. In any case, thanks for spreading the word about this awesome high-energy feel-good band!