Johnny Yuma

Not exactly local to the Bournemouth area, Johnny Yuma hail from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the town that birthed Husker Du and Prince and where a young Bob Dylan cut his teeth as a budding folk singer back in the late fifties. What piqued my interest in giving this band a listen was their list of favourite artists, namely Cream, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter and Jack White, they appeared to be talking my kind of musical language. The three-piece of Elliot Heerman on bass & vocal, guitarist Patrick Irwin and on drums, the wonderfully monikered Jane “Damage” Halldorson have, from what I can gather from their Facebook page, been playing bars and small clubs around their hometown and the Pacific North West since October 2016.

Johnny Yuma draw their influences more from the White Stripes, lo-fi end of the musical spectrum on their new five-track EP, “Rest in Peace”. The sound is raw, immediate and in your face, particularly on the opening “Alabama Woman”, a three-chord thrash with a stop-start arrangement that takes no prisoners. “Knock Knock” keeps up the sonic assault, with unfussy drums pushing along a three-note riff, a simple chorus and a heavily reverbed solo from Patrick Irwin. While listening to “Cellophane”, with its trashy sixties vibe, I couldn’t help thinking it wouldn’t appear out of place on Lenny Kaye’s “Nuggets” compilation of mid-sixties garage and psych one hit wonders and obscurities, alongside the likes of The Gonn and the Shadows of the Night.

Johnny Yuma

Three songs in and they were beginning to win me over, despite being initially disappointed that the technical ability associated with Cream was absent. To be quite honest I could have done without the lightweight “Mother’s and Sailors”, but thankfully we’re back on track with the closing “Whisper”, four and a half minutes of fuzzed up guitar, sneering vocals and driving drums. Forget their old blues men and white guy blues rock influences, this is one rough and ready rock n’ roll band moulded in a garage and honed in the grungy bars of Minneapolis and St Paul, for comparisons think of the Stooges and The Monks.

Johnny Yuma

In summary, four good tracks out of five isn’t a bad return, “Rest in Peace” certainly blew the cobwebs out of my ears on a wet Saturday afternoon and, if by any chance Johnny Yuma make it to the UK, let’s hope they travel south, because I have a sneaking suspicion that they take no prisoners live.

Track Listing
Alabama Woman
Knock Knock
Mother’s and Sailors

Johnny Yuma are
Elliot Heerman: Bass & Vocal
Patrick Irwin: Guitar
Jane “Damage” Halldorson: Drums


Words by John Cherry.