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John January and Linda Berry
Have Chemistry

By T.E. Mattox

hemistry by its very definition is the spontaneous reaction of two people to each other, especially that sense of mutual attraction and understanding. This month John January and Linda Berry release their new project, Chemistry 101 and together they explore a range and depth of musical styles on both organic and physical levels. As a joint labor of love, January says Chemistry 101 is pretty straight-forward. "We recorded an old-school idea of an album. It's music from a couple of kids who grew up in the 70s, and who adored their records. We've chosen and re-fashioned some juicy stuff, like Joe Liggins, Memphis Minnie, Flash Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson II and even an old Boz Scaggs tune."

CD cover of Chemistry 101
The new release from John January and Linda Berry

As fate would have it, Linda and John got to know each other exactly where you'd expect. "We met on stage." John says. "At Larry's Beach Club in Oceanside about 4 years ago when I was asked by Pearl West to guest with Linda's band, Smoking Jr. The chemistry between us was immediate and palpable… but the timing was not right."

Both January and Berry were experiencing "the final stages of ending marriages." And as if that wasn't enough, John adds, "My time with my band, little monsters and the four years as Michele Lundeen's guitarist was also winding down. A year later, Linda and I were ready to begin pursuing 'everything' together."

The collaboration began from the ground up. "Musically," John says. "We began by just sitting and playing, becoming excited about the songs and our chemistry. We quickly built up what is now a repertoire of over 100 songs, mostly in the Blues realm, and these songs speak to our relationship and also our individual stories."

Sounds extremely personal, tell us about the composition and makeup of the album? "There are 12 songs." John says. "Mostly lesser-known, blues-based covers that Linda and I have chosen. Songs that we developed through live performances and that tell a little of our story in one fashion or another."

Can you give us an example? "For instance, 'If I Didn't Know Better' was a kind of homework assignment from Linda to me, after our first date. Suffice to say, on the second date we were singing the song in harmony together, and when we perform that song on stage now it still evokes the daring and tantalizing moment of a first encounter."

Let's talk a little about putting the album together? "Chemistry 101 was primarily recorded at Thunderbird Studios in Oceanside." John says. "…and also at the Scott Exum Studio's in Escondido. 95% of what you hear on this recording… are first takes, including the vocals and guitar solos. I mixed the album back in my home studio, the Atom Shop. Saxophonist Chuck Arcilla contributes all over the album, soloing and sometimes overdubbing himself as a horn section. Sadly, during the course of album's evolution, we lost two of our dear friends who performed on the album, the beloved bassist Dave Talbott who deserves a co-producers credit for the guidance and great ideas he brought to the songs, and drummer Cliff Souligny, who died from a sudden brain tumor earlier this year."

I can't imagine how you continue to work on a project after losing two of its primary contributors? "At times it was difficult for me to finish the mixing." John says the hardest part was "just listening to my friends on the tracks, performing, singing, and talking between takes. Within three months we lost Dave, Cliff and another member of our organization, back-up bassist, Steve Welles. The losses were a three-way sucker punch for Linda and me, and they flattened us just as we felt we were getting into our stride. So, it was important to pick ourselves up, and finish this project, knowing that all three of those talented gentlemen were firm proponents of the music and chemistry that Linda and I had developed. To finish off the album, we got some great help from even more musicians, like Sonny Derrin on harmonica, Irv Goldstein on organ and Pete Bogle on drums."

John January and Linda Berry perform with friends at the 'Doors of Change' benefit
John January and Linda Berry perform with friends at the 'Doors of Change' benefit for homeless youth in San Diego. Photo: Yachiyo Mattox

After all the challenges surrounding this project, it must feel good to have it finished? "We're very excited. This is a blues album and it is a rollicking, groovy, funky, sexy project… we even goof around a little. But, make no mistake." John says. "We made sure that we are kicking some ass on there."

Check out Chemistry 101, the latest blues from John January and Linda Berry. Available this month…. or if you're so inclined you can get your copy at the CD Release Party, June 11, 2017 at Tango Del Rey 3567 Del Ray St. San Diego, CA 92109.

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Let Tim know what you think about his traveling adventure.

I was there at the Shrine to see Bob come in riding on a baby elephant. He says in the interview it was either '68 or 69: it was both – it was New Year's Eve (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite),

Debbie Hollier, Nevada City, CA

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Who else played with Canned Heat and Deep Purple at the Shrine in '68?

Bill, LA

I think the Shrine show on New Years in '68, where Bob Hite rode out on the elephant, also featured Poco, Lee Michaels, Black Pearl, Love Army and Sweetwater. Don't know that Deep Purple was booked on that evening.

Bill, maybe you're thinking about the International Pop Fest in San Francisco a few months earlier that featured these fine folks... Procol Harum, Iron Butterfly, Jose Feliciano, Johnny Rivers, Eric Burdon And The Animals, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Grass Roots, The Chambers Brothers, Deep Purple, Fraternity of Man & Canned Heat or possibly the following year in Jan of 1970 when Deep Purple appeared with Canned Heat and Renaissance on a triple-bill in London at the Royal Albert Hall.

One final note: The current Johnny Otis piece didn't mention it, but it was Mr. Otis that took Canned Heat into the studio the very first time to record in 1966. Small world, ain't it?


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Thank u for posting it! Bob is still boogin' around!! (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite),

Stefano Di Leonardo, Fisciano (Salerno, Italy)

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Great Read! (See "The Bear," an article on Bob Hite) I will post it on Bob "THE BEAR" Hite Official Facebook Page,

Dave Tohill, Brandon, UK

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Hello Tim, thank you so much for letting a huge Canned Heat fan check out this
interview with the Bear. I really enjoyed it.

Best regards,

Rick Caldwell, Fairfield, Ohio

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I knew Bob Hite in the 60's. Canned Heat played at our high school prom 1966 Rexford High. The Family Dog, Chet Helms, Skip Taylor.

Max Kalik, Los Angeles, CA

Dear Tim,

I just discovered you from an email I received from Preston Smith disclosing his next event. I wanted to tap into his website Prestonsmithmusic but it would not link from your site for some reason. I have to say Preston really is a genius and I met him in Glendale at a jazz club about three years ago, after a fatal accident. By chance, I was invited to spend time hanging out with Preston and some friends after his gig. He is everything you say and I will never forget his amazing creativity and his positive influence in my life.

Janelle, Palm Springs, CA

Love the article! (on Lowell George) Lowell was my father.

Forrest George, Warren, Vermont

This Bob Hite interview is the most interesting thing I have read concerning Canned Heat. I have Fito's book, but I always was interested in learning more about Bob Hite. You did it here my friend...great interview!!!!!

Tony Musto - Pittston, PA

Hey Tim, Great article on Preston! I really enjoyed it and you did your homework. I'll probably catch PS this weekend.


Dave - Northridge, CA

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Hello, what a great article on Preston Smith! I actually met Preston one evening after an Acoustic set of my own at the Prestigeous Carlton Hotel here in Atascadero, Ca. We were loading up and he happened to be walking down the sidewalk and stop to say hello. I must say that he is a truly interesting and talented man that NEVER forgets to let me know when he is playing around the Central Coast where I live. It was so fun to read about who he truly is...(as if you don't know him the first time you meet him)! My adventures have only just begun as I recently returned from Nashville recording my self titled debut EP. I can only hope that my adventures down the road are as enlightening as Preston's and that I have the honor of a great writer such as yourself to share them with the world. Thank you for doing just that, sharing "Preston Smith" with the world.


Amy Estrada - Atascadero, CA

Hi Tim,

My name is Bert, I'm from Italy and I'm a blues harmonica player...I read your article and it reminded me of the two trips I made in the Delta, in 2008 and 2009. I love Frank's music and I think it's a shame people don't really know his work. It's important that people like you write about him. Thank you! In the Delta I was only a "stupid" tourist, but it was a great, unique experience I consider one of the most important in my life: driving on the highways, Listening to the blues everywhere, jamming in places like Red's and ground Zero in Clarksdale or the Blues Bar in Greenville... are priceless things, something I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life. I met a beautiful, lovely woman there too (named Hope), but I behaved like a stupid kid and I lost her... Alas! I will never forget that days and the chance I had to find happiness...Well, I also wrote something about Frank on a website, but it's in Italian... I give you the link of the first part (the second will be published in the next weeks) anyway if you know some Italian or somebody who can understand it... Even if I'm thinking of making a translation


Bert - Pavia, Italy

I wanna be Tim!

Brent, Seattle, WA

* * *

Those pictures give you an idea of what the Rockin' Pneumonia actually looks like and it looks BAD! But the man can still play! Enjoyed the article - give us more TRAVELING BLUES BOY!

Steve Thomas - NA, INDIANA

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Good Stuff, Tim. Having been a Johnny Winter fan since the first time I heard Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo, it was great hearing his take on some his highlight moments that defined his blues career. His affiliation with Muddy Waters was particularly interesting. Kudos for bringing that out. Thanks to your dedication to covering the blues scene, this "one of a kind" music still lives for servicemen & women around the world. Keep it Up!

Brandon Williams, Moreno Valley, CA

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Impressive! What a legend and how cool that you got so much time with him, Tim.

Don, Louisville, KY

Tim - Great article, enjoyed Little Feat/Lowell George story, really brought me back in time. Did not know he was a fishin' man! Wonder what surfaces out of the abyss of your memory next?

Steve Thomas, New Albany, IN

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I really liked your travel back in time with Lowell and Little Feat. As a long time Feat fan (mostly the stuff with Lowell) it was cool to read. I learned several of their songs back in the day and they still stand up today when played live. Another singer I really liked from back then is TimBuckley. Thanks for the article.

Chet Hogoboom, Arroyo Grande, CA

Loved your last issue of TB, especially the Mayall piece. I want that guy's job!

Brent, Seattle, WA


This is a great write up. Has it been printed in any magazines? It's better than a lot of things I read in my guitar magazines, so props for that.

Caejar, Moreno Valley, CA


I can tell that you have this passion for jazz. I wonder if you yourself play any instrument. Or are you just a groupie like most of us?

I talked with a mid-aged flute jazz artist a few weeks ago and he lamented that despite his talents (and he is extremely talented) he says that the industry hasn't been kind to him. He said jobs are few and far between. He said the music industry is combating piracy and competition due to technology being readily available to private homes and that they are not as profitable as before. So they are replacing live talent for synthesized or digital instruments.

Do you see the same trend in your relationships with your music network?

Bob, Pasadena, CA

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