I like all kinds of music — that much is obvious to all who read these columns. I have a special place in my heart for progressive rock having grown up with the likes of Genesis, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graff Generator, and more recently Kansas, Styx, Rush and Marillion.

Well, Maine gave us The 220s (made up of Joel Watson, guitar/vocals; James Taylor, bass/vocals; and Mark LeClair, drums) who have released an EP and the full-length CD “Body Down,” which came out in 2015. It’d been several years since Taylor — who I initially interviewed — had contacted me and when he did, I discovered that he’d joined a new group called Skyfoot, so when he recently sent an email stating that his first band would be performing in Rockport, I jumped at the chance to reconnect and ended up calling him at his Rockland home.

Q: Does this show in Rockport mean that The 220s are going to be touring again, or is this just a one-off gig?
Taylor: This is something that will be continuing on … Joel is ready to play and better than ever, but our drummer, Mark, is having to deal with some stuff so we have another guy, that I went to high school with, who’s going to be filling in. His name is Samuel Yawdik, and he actually gave lessons to Mark.

Q: Well, I for one am very happy that The 220s are back because what you three released back in 2015 was really exceptional. But you’re also in Skyfoot, a Boston-based quartet — are you able to do both bands, or is it a one-or-the-other type of thing?
Taylor: The Skyfoot is priority right now as far as schedule-wise, but anytime I have an open date in the calendar, I’ll directly be looking for The 220s to fill those, as well. But, yeah, I’ll be juggling both of them. I don’t think The 220s are going to be quite as busy as we were but I think we’re going to try and do bigger events like this one at the (Rockport) Opera House.

Q: Will you be generating new music with this band, as well?
Taylor: Yeah, I think so. We already have some new stuff we haven’t recorded anyways, so we’ll definitely be doing some of that, picking up on where we left off on that.

Q: For people who may not be familiar with either band, how does Skyfoot compare to The 220s? No, that’s probably like comparing apples and oranges, right?
Taylor: Yeah.


Q: Skyfoot is more jam-based, correct?
Taylor: Yes, and I was talking with the guitar player, Tyler (Arnott) about this last weekend, and the great thing about the band is that we rarely practice (and) the great thing about the internet is we can send ideas over and rehearse on our own, and the forte of the band is improvisation, basically.

Q: Where The 220s’ songs are much more structured, right?
Taylor: Definitely, it’s progressive rock-influenced all the way, but we do like to jam there, too, but it’s not as deep as Skyfoot, we like to keep it pretty structured and technical.

Q: Now, do I remember correctly that The 220s do covers?
Taylor: Yeah, and when we do Pink Floyd and things like that, we like to do them justice and keep them the way they are.

Q: It sounds like you have the best of both worlds — musically speaking, that is.
Taylor: Yeah, definitely. I tend to favor the jam band world over the technical but that’s more of like self-expression — it’s hard to put it into words.

Q: It seems to me that with Skyfoot you could do the same song two different shows and have it come out completely different because of the way you feel and how the music and the crowd moves you.
Taylor: Yeah, totally — there’s different energy, different crowds so it’s definitely going to wind up different … but we like to share it with the audience.

Q: Back to The 220s and the show in Rockport happening on the 20th of this month: 2/20/2020! What can folks expect at that gig?
Taylor: Two sets are what I think it’s going to be — one set of primarily original music from the album “Body Down.”


Q: What’s the second set going to be like?
Taylor: We’ll have some other people helping us do Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” — and Joel will be doing some solo stuff to warm up the night. As people are coming in, he’ll be greeting them with some solo music.

Q: You mentioned some other musicians that will ‘help you out’ with that Pink Floyd set — who will those other people be?
Taylor: We’ll have Jennifer Nittolo on vocals, Devin Ryan on keyboards, Sonja Hannington on saxophone, and a drummer we’ve worked with before, Jason Dean.

Q: He was your drummer back when The 220s were a quartet in 2011, I believe, before Mark LeClair joined. You also had Ian Maddox on guitar, keyboards and vocals at that time; in fact, I chatted with him for my first interview with your band. Is there anything, James, that you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this article?
Taylor: Well, I’ve heard rumors that we’re going to try to do this every year on 2/20 to make it a celebration, so I just encourage people to make their way out to this show in Rockport at the Opera House. It’s been five years since we’ve been together and we’re going to give it all we’ve got and show them what we’re all about! (facebook.com/The220s/)

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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