Poor Man's Poison
Sunday, June 10, 2012, 3:00pm
Woody Guthrie Stage
Music in the 21st century is a strange dichotomy. On one side you have a waning corporate juggernaut, printing records based on focus group results. Elsewhere is a landscape riddled with cynicism, where genuine expression has been shunned in favor of irony or imitation. While it may seem difficult for an honest band to traverse such a dense minefield, Poor Man's Poison have a way of making it look easy. After ten years of playing together in different configurations, indulging nearly every genre under the sun, it seems the boys have found their niche. Apparently just sounding like who you are is all you ever really need to do, and this is truly a group that understands itself. Less concerned with sonic exploration, they seem more interested in a direct continuity with our collective musical heritage. They don't play music tailored for a specific subculture or an obscure movement; they play something for anyone who still values integrity in American songwriting. Really, it's almost shocking to hear music so universal and uncontrived.
Like any great band, the sound is the clear result of collaboration and compromise. Diverse influences converge into a singular consistent vision. Each component is integral, and each serve the greater whole. The effect is serious but never hopeless, thoughtful but still kinetic, with a bit of anti-authoritarianism inherent to the working class. Really, it's a bit surprising that music this warm and optimistic was born of a near collapse amongst its creators. After drummer Dustin Medeiros was diagnosed with tinnitus, it became apparent that he would have to resign, not just from his band, but from loud music all together. So, after just one (fantastic) album together, this would be the reluctant end of Done For Good. As the group disintegrated, singer Ryan Hakker and Mike Jacobs continued working on more acoustic music, eventually arranging a show at a place called Lush in their hometown, Hanford California.
It was then that Medeiros shifted gears, borrowing a stand up bass, expecting nothing more than a one-off show. Then, as these things go, on the second day of practice, former Done For Good guitarist, Tommy McCarthy, arrived with a borrowed mandolin. "After he played that first hook melody," says Medeiros, "we knew we had a band. It was out of our hands." Since then the group has accomplished far more than any of their prior endeavors, and in far less time. Now, they've finished their second album entitled Friends With The Enemy, and are poised to take their music further outward, into a world that's better off because of it.