“Two former members of Yes have formed a new band called Yoso, along with the singer from Toto,” reports guitarist Johnny Bruhns of the Yes tribute Roundabout, “and I’ve been asked to join the group!” Former Yes-men Tony Kaye (keys) and Billy Sherwood (bass/vocals) invited Bruhns to play alongside Toto singer Bobby Kimball when the group begins touring in August. “They were aware of my work with Roundabout, ‘the American Yes tribute,’ which was founded in Julian around 1999.”
The guitarist first encountered Yes members at Acoustic Music San Diego in Normal Heights, where Yes moonlighters Chris Squire and Alan White performed with their band the Syn in February 2006. “Steve Nardelli, who sang lead, came without his acoustic guitar, [and] the Syn’s management had asked to borrow mine for him...that’s what started my relationship with the Yes extended family.”
Bruhns — who mainly plays Steve Howe’s parts in Roundabout — sat in for Howe when Yes was preparing for a 2008 tour. “The fact that I’m also influenced by [latter-day Yes guitarist] Trevor Rabin was much appreciated at our rehearsals,” he says.
As for meeting Howe, Bruhns says, “Wow, I wish I had a better report on the man. He was not having a happy night there in Mesa, Arizona. When I told him who I was and what I had started doing, he let out a grunt of displeasure and turned away.
“I asked him to wait and told him a story about what he meant to me. I’d headlined with a band at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano 11 days before, not knowing that he’d played there, which apparently was the reason he perked up. I told him that when I came across a nice head shot of Chet Atkins — the walls are lined with promo shots — that the only thing I was thinking was ‘Steve Howe’s hero has played here.’ He said, ‘Oh, I see,’ and turned away again. I said, ‘Wait, you see? You’re my Chet Atkins!’ He didn’t seem to appreciate it, but I was thankful he listened just the same.
“I’ve never really been able to connect with my hero, sadly, but there’s still hope.” Yoso’s debut album will be released July 27.