Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival

Be a part of the 5th Annual Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival March 24-26, 2017, in Durango, Colorado. World-renowned performers will be Swingin' It Up at the historic Strater Hotel for three entertaining days filled with live music, silent film comedies, dance lessons, after hours parties, and more! Buy Your Ragtime Festival Tickets Here

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Fifth Annual Festival: March 24 – 26, 2017

Thank you to everyone that helped make our 2016 Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival a tremendous success. We look forward to our 2017 Festival – please check back in the fall of 2016 for more information.


Adam Swanson at Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalAdam Swanson, Festival Music Director is rapidly becoming known as one of the world’s foremost performers and historians of ragtime and early American popular music. He recently received his B.A. in classical piano performance and is now completing graduate studies as a musicology student at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Although Adam is only twenty-four years old, he has been a featured performer and lecturer at ragtime and jazz festivals across the United States, and he is the only four-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. He made his New York debut in Carnegie Hall at the age of nineteen, where he performed with multi-platinum-selling artist Michael Feinstein. Adam has performed at the Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C., as well as in Hungary and Switzerland. He has worked with such musicians as Toronto’s John Arpin, former rock star Ian Whitcomb, and legendary 1950s recording artist Johnny Maddox, who is one of Adam’s greatest influences. Adam performs every summer at the historic Strater Hotel in Durango, Colorado, where he is musical director of the new Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival.

Danny Coots at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalTom Brier, born in Oakdale, California, was four when his parents bought an old Schubert mechanical player piano, and soon he was picking out tunes he heard on the piano rolls. Aware that their son had talent, his parents enrolled him with a local piano teacher when he was five, and in a short time he was composing and notating his own music. He composed over two dozen rags by the age of eleven. In 1985 he came to the attention of Larry Applegate, then the president of the Sacramento Ragtime Society. His own compositions embody many of the subtleties of ragtime, yet are original. His mastery of the ragtime idiom matured over a few short years and now his signature rapid-fire left hand runs have been tempered by a new attention to the inner harmonies and voicings of ragtime. This sensitivity is seen in his own compositions which number well over 150. He has released four CDs: Rising Star in 1994, Generic in 1997, Pianola in 2000, and Skeletons in 2003. A fifth is forthcoming. He began appearing as a featured performer at the West Coast Ragtime Festival and other ragtime festivals right out of high school. Tom works as a programmer/analyst. When not tapping the computer keyboard at work, he's at home pounding on the piano keyboard, working up a new rag, transcribing handwritten scores or piano rolls, or busily engaged in a variety of music recording projects.

Danny Coots at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalDanny Coots started playing drums in 1964 at the age of six in northern New York. From that time he has studied with Nick Baffaro, Rich Holly, Alan Koffman, and Jim Peteresak in percussion. Danny continued his education at Crane School of Music and St. Lawrence University. He became adjunct faculty at St. Lawrence University, Clarkson University, and Potsdam State University from the mid-1970s into the 1990s, while traveling and performing with such jazz greats as Herb Ellis, Will Alger, Spiegle Willcox, Mimi Hines, Phil Ford, Bob Darch, and Pearl Kaufman. In 1995, Danny moved to make his home in Nashville, Tennessee. There he joined the Jack Daniels Silver Cornet Band for five years and helped to found the Titan Hot Seven. At the same time, he played and recorded with such artists as Randy Reinhart, John Sheridan, Neville Dickie, Bob Shultz, Ken Peplowski, Dan Barrett, Allen Vache, Vince Giordano, and Rebecca Kilgore. Danny has recorded extensively in Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles on over seventy recordings, including the 2005 Grammy-winning compilation Beautiful Dreamer—The Songs of Stephen Foster. He has performed throughout the world, having appeared in ninety countries.

Danny Coots at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalAndrew Greene,
PRSO Founder and Director, is the leading young authority on orchestral ragtime and silent film accompaniment. Andrew founded the Peacherine Orchestra while a freshman at the University of Maryland, hoping to draw attention to this neglected but historically important music. He is the curator of the Arthur C. Ziegler, E.J. McBride, Katherine Lingham, Louis H. Burns, and Palm Leaf Ragtime Orchestra collections, along with his own personal collection of orchestrated ragtime, silent movie music, theater and dance selections, piano solos, and records. The collection totals over 10,000 selections from 1862 to 1950, with an emphasis on the music of 1880 to 1929. Andrew has appeared at leading venues including The Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Institution, The Library of Congress, The American Film Institute, and has traveled across the United States to perform, conduct, and lecture on the music of America’s past. Mr. Greene guest conducted the South Dakota Symphony Chamber Orchestra at the age of 22 in September, 2013, underscoring the silent comedy of Charlie Chaplin. Frequently Andrew leads seminars based on his research, presenting at ragtime festivals and other events.

Frederick Hodges at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalFrederick Hodges, a native Californian, is hailed by the press as one of the best jazz and ragtime pianists in the world and sought after by today's foremost orchestras, festivals, conductors, and collaborative musicians. His artistry, virtuosity, and charisma have brought him to the world's most renowned stages. Classically trained as a concert pianist, starting at the age of eight, Frederick has established a reputation as a truly versatile artist equally sought after as soloist, singer, guest soloist with the California Pops Orchestra, and dance band pianist with Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra. At twenty, while still an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra as pianist. Frederick has enjoyed a career playing solo piano for society parties and holding down steady engagements at legendary San Francisco establishments such as L'Etoile in the Huntington Hotel, Masons in the Fairmont Hotel, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. His extensive repertoire includes all the best ragtime, stride, and novelty piano solo pieces. He has appeared on national television, radio, and in several Hollywood films and is also a much sought-after silent film accompanist for both live performances and on DVD. Frederick performs regularly at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and has participated in many prestigious festivals including in Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the WestCoast Ragtime Festival, the Blind Boone Festival in Columbia Missouri, the Templeton Ragtime Festival at Mississippi State University, the El Segundo Ragtime Festival, and the Sedalia Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. At age seventeen, he won the prestigious Music Teachers of California Young Artist Award.

Brian Holland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalBrian Holland is an internationally renowned pianist, composer, recording artist, and entertainer enjoying a music career spanning more than 35 years. Spending his formative years playing in pizza parlors and clubs throughout Indiana, Brian's career flourished when he discovered the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. In 1999, he won his third title and was retired as "undefeated." He has since returned three times to serve on the judges' panel, most recently in 2014. Brian has traveled the world performing his creative styles of jazz, ragtime, stride, boogie, and blues, and played with some of the hottest jazz bands in the United States; Titan Hot Seven, Wally's Warehouse Waifs, the Holland Rhythm Company, and others. Most recently, Brian and Danny Coots have formed a musical partnership, and together they are quickly building a reputation as the fun and musical duo, Holland & Coots. Brian has thirteen recordings (solo and ensemble) to his credit, and garnered a Grammy nomination for his work with Bud Dresser on their album, "Ragtime - Goodtime - Jazz".

Frank Livolsi | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalFrank LiVolsi is a pianist and composer from Rhode Island who specializes in ragtime and early jazz. Beginning his musical education at the Knapp School of Music under the instruction of Mrs. Julia Tombello, Frank received classical training and only discovered a passionate interest in ragtime during his early teen years. Frank first performance outside New England was in 2011, when he performed at the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri. Since then Frank has appeared at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California; the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival in Columbia, Missouri; as well as venues in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Massachusetts. Frank is a recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island, having earned his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. In addition to his engineering profession, Frank is also a faculty member at his alma mater, the Knapp School of Music, teaching ragtime piano.

Domingo Mancuello | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalWill Perkins, a native of Riverbank, California, has been playing the piano for 11 years and performing at Ragtime/Jazz Festivals since the age of 14. His love for the traditional stride piano styles of Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and Dick Wellstood have lead him to opportunities to perform at ragtime festivals around the United States. In 2012, Will was a featured performer at the Bohem Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Budapest, Hungary. Later on that same year, he placed 3rd in the World Championship of Old-Time Piano in Peoria, Illinois. More recently, he was awarded a scholarship to study Jazz at Brigham Young University – Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, where he currently resides and attends school.


Todd Robbins at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Bob Seeley is known internationally as one of the world's premier boogie piano players. Born and raised in Detroit, Bob is a classically-trained pianist whose early discovery of boogie woogie is our blessing. He learned boogie, stride, and ragtime from recordings and folios. Among his great influences are Pat Flowers; Fats Waller's protégé; and the boogie pioneer Meade Lux Lewis - one of the three giants of boogie woogie (along with Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson). Bob watched Pat Flowers through the alley doorway of Bakers Keyboard Lounge when he was too young to enter the establishment, and his relationship with Lewis started in an equally unusual fashion. Bob says, "I met Meade Lux Lewis after he played in Detroit. He invited me and my friends to a house party where he was playing. We beat Lewis there and I started playing one of his songs called Chicago Flyer. As he came up the walk he asked, "Who's that stealing all my stuff?" From that beginning, Bob says, a friendship developed through the 1950s and 1960s and shows its influence in his playing today. He also met and played piano with Art Tatum, who reportedly was duly impressed with the music of the relative youngster. Well-versed in classic blues, Seeley worked for a while as accompanist to Sippie Wallace, the great blues vocalist who was rediscovered in the 1980s. He has played Carnegie Hall several times and many major venues throughout Europe. Bob was a fixture at the piano bar at Charlie's Crab in a Detroit suburb, where he entertained the locals and visiting dignitaries for over 32 years. He has released a number of CDs, including collaborations with Mr. B (Mark Lincoln Braun) and with Boogie Bob Baldori.

Todd Robbins at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Virginia Tichenor  is one of the few and best women ragtime performers in the country. She is the daughter of the late Trebor Tichenor, the noted ragtime scholar, pianist, collector, and founder of the St. Louis Ragtimers. Virginia grew up in the midst of one of the world's largest collections of ragtime sheet music and piano rolls, and was continuously surrounded by notable ragtime performers. Performances include the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri; West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California, Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in Sacramento, California, and Charles Templeton Ragtime Festival in Starkville, Mississippi. She performs regularly at Pier 23 Café in San Francisco. In addition to her solo playing, Virginia is a jazz band pianist in the Bay Area, working currently with the Zenith Jazz Band and formerly with the Devil Mountain Jazz Band. She has numerous recordings, including her first solo album released in 1998 entitled Virginia's Favorites. In addition to her solo recording, she has recorded two other albums of piano solos and duets with her talented family. The Family Album, released in 2000, features The Tichenor Family Trio with her late father, Trebor, on piano and her husband, Marty Eggers, on bass and piano. In 2004, the Tichenor Family Five was formed, adding Virginia’ brother, Andy on trumpet, and his wife, Susanna, on violin and viola. In 2007, Virginia released a recording featuring live performances of herself at her monthly piano engagement at Pier 23 in San Francisco, California. This recording features Virginia with a talented rhythm section comprised of Craig Ventresco on guitar, J. Hansen on drums, and Marty Eggers on tuba. Besides playing piano, Virginia plays drums and is the Festival Director for West Coast Ragtime Society, which produces an annual ragtime music festival each November in Sacramento, California.

Carl Sonny Leyland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalCarl Sonny Leyland, originally from England and was drawn to American music he heard on LP records his father would play such as Dixieland jazz, rock and roll of the 1950s and country music of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. At age 15 Leyland discovered boogie woogie when he heard a school friend working through a written arrangement of a tune called JD's Boogie Woogie (Marvin Wright). Captivated by the sound, Leyland was inspired to begin on a path that would become his life's purpose. Leyland went on to explore the piano blues genre, becoming an authority on early and obscure styles such as those played by Cow Cow Davenport, Little Brother Montgomery, Montana Taylor, and Speckled Red to name a few. In 1988 Leyland moved to New Orleans where he would spend the next nine years active on the club scene, quickly gaining a reputation for his authentic blues and early rock and roll stylings. He toured with the Dallas based band Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets whose lineup included blues great Sam Myers. In 1997 Leyland relocated to Southern California and joined Big Sandy and his Flyrite Boys touring with them for over three years. His repertoire expanded to include ragtime and early jazz styles which enabled him to become part of the traditional jazz scene around Los Angeles and San Diego. In June 2003 the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio was formed with drummer Hal Smith and bassist Marty Eggers, and they have recorded seven albums to date and continue to work steadily on the festival scene. Leyland continues his involvement with the rockabilly scene  and plays each year in the backing band at Viva Las Vegas and more recently at the Rockabilly Rave USA.