Poor Man’s Poison: Band Profile

May 21, 2011 | Arts & Entertainment, Books & Tales, Music

by Zachariah Zendejas

When it comes to music, I, myself, love different kinds of music, from pop like Lady Gaga, to oldies like Nat King Cole. However, when I was told about Hanford-based band Poor Man’s Poison, I admit to being a bit skeptical, seeing as how their music is a mix of genres from folk to rock. But once I heard their title song It’s Alright from their first album, their sound captured my attention.

From left to right: Dustin Medeiros, Ryan Hakker, Tommy McCarthy, Mike Jacobs

Their bassist, Dustin Medeiros who spoke on behalf of the band, informed me that their sound cannot be pinned down in one specific category. With a mix of sounds like bluegrass, because of the instruments, and folk, and being inspired by many different genres of music, their style is not one, ridged form. Says Medeiros, “We mostly say we are Americana because it’s a little more vague.” With such a strong sound, it’s hard to believe that this band was formed from a previous band, Done For Good, that collapsed after an unfortunate event.

The original band, Done For Good, which generated one album, fell because drummer Dustin Medeiros, now bassist for Poor Man’s Poison, was diagnosed with tinnitus. Tinnitus is a permanent, constant ringing in the ear and prevented Medeiros from playing drums, or any excessively loud music. After this, Ryan Hakker, singer for Done For Good, began working with Mike Jacobs on different sounds, acoustically driven. Within a year of Done For Good’s collapse, the original members of the band, including guitarist Tommy McCarthy, joined with Mike Jacobs to form Poor Man’s Poison.

“It wasn’t a plan. It just kinda fell into place because we did love Done For Good,” states Medeiros, who recalled the forming of Poor Man’s Poison. The configuration of Poor Man’s Poison is quite different than the previous Done For Good. The biggest difference is that it’s all acoustic. Medeiros dropped his drums and borrowed a stand-up bass, while McCarthy gave up his guitar style for a mandolin, and with the guitars of Jacobs and Hakker, they were convinced that the show must go on.

Their friendship has gone back 12 to 13 years, according to Medeiros. It began in junior high when Medeiros and Hakker met; they met McCarthy in high school. Hakker had worked with Jacobs in previous bands and introduced him to Medeiros during high school as well. With this long musical history together, and the fact that they jammed in bands together in different configurations, Medeiros says they had a great foundation for Poor Man’s Poison.

When asked about their choice of name, Medeiros replied, “There is no glamorous story behind it. It’s just hard to find a name, and that’s where it landed. As far as the meaning, it’s best to take it as it means to you. It’s not about alcohol. It’s more about getting past the vice that holds you down in life; whatever that may be.”

When it comes to writing songs, Medeiros says the process is somewhat relaxed, starting with one of the members bringing in an idea or the beginning to a song they may have been working on. “They bring that to the table at practice and we work things out together. Sometimes the song may change dramatically from how it started, and sometimes they are straight forward. Either way the end result is different then we generally imagine the song being in the beginning.”

However their process works, they have done a great job. With their first album, It’s Alright, on iTunes, and the release of their second album, Friends with the Enemy back in March of this year, PMP is creating quite a name for themselves.

More information about Poor Man’s Poison along with information about upcoming events, go to their website and thier Facebook page.

Zachariah Zendejas is 20 years old and attends Reedley College full-time working toward a degree in English. He is an aspiring writer who hopes to do some freelance work for magazines or newspapers.


  1. Hi! Well I’m the auntie Danee of Ryan Hakker! I was so happy to read your article. This band is amazing and I’m so proud of what they have all done. Tomorrow is their sell out concert at the Fox theater, that’s a first for any local band so another milestone for them as well. Hope to continue reading stories of there rising to greatness with writers as yourself… Thanks

    • Hey Danee! This is the biggest shot in the dark considering this article is 5 years old, but I recently discovered Poor Man’s Poison and fell in love, particularly with their version of Wayfaring Stranger. I am a filmmaker and want to make a music video for the song because it conjures up such great imagery, but after searching long and hard I haven’t found anyway to contact anyone from the band. So if by chance you ever read this and Ryan has any interest in making a music video or giving his blessing to have one made, please let me know.
      All the Best,

      • Hey Nate this is Ryan from pmp. Please contact me via email. Ryandeanh@gmail.com

  2. I love this bands sound and I’m drawn to it. The song Fathers Lament is the only song that brings me to tears every time I hear it. Hell, I get choked up just explaining it to someone and I’m not usually like that. If anyone from the group reads this I would like to say you have impacted my life with your music and I want to thank you.

    • Ditto the lyrics they put out in their songs hit home in all sorts of ways very grateful to have found them seriously good shit



  1. Task 6 – Viktoria Music - […] Poison: Band Profile. [Online]. Kings River Life Magazine. Last Updated: 21 May 2011. Available at: https://kingsriverlife.com/05/21/poor-mans-poison-band-profile/ [Accessed 20 October…

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