Poor Man's Change Switch Their Sound on a Dime

Categories: Locals Only

Jaime Anderson
On the surface, Orange roots-rock quartet Poor Man's Change has all the makings of a classic SoCal stoner-bro band. Front man and primary songwriter Rob "Red" Page, with his burly build and bushy ginger locks in a ponytail and stashed under a knit cap, sings in a half-croon/half-rap; his rhymes about feel-good elements ranging from whisky rivers to bong rips sometimes take on a more activist vibe with their get-up-stand-up musings.

When they set up in an acoustic format, Poor Man's Change are squarely in Everlast territory, with Red supplying down-on-your-luck minor blues progressions and drummer Cory Anderson's deft cajon work adding unexpected accents and flairs. They'll wander onto Rebelution's turf while chopping out a filtered reggae lilt. But much of the time, especially as of late in club shows at the Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen, it's pure blues-based barroom rock & roll, allowing their country-rock side to shine above all.

All said, when you try to paint their sound, it's a smudge of everything, and that's how Red likes it. "We look at it like this: How many presets do you have in your car? For most people," he explains, "every preset is a specific sound, whether that's rock, reggae, hip-hop, country. We have an expansive demographic--you may not like all of our songs, but you will find something that butters your bread. I think Sturgill Simpson said it best: 'I'm tired of y'all playing dress up an' trying to sing them old country songs.'"

Surely this is a West Coast jam-band ethos. Just as the Grateful Dead mixed down-home folk and blues with psychedelic wanderlust and later disco-rock grooves; and just as Sublime threw together reggae, hip-hop and punk rock; Poor Man's Change casts a wide net. And while the band list the Dead, Phish and other jam-scene notables among their influences, they're careful to not apply the label. "We do not consider ourselves a jam band," Red insists. "The stigma of long guitar solos, Birkenstocks and free-spirited hippy love often scares people away."

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