Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival

Be a part of the 4th Annual Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival March 18- 20, 2016, 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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Thank you to everyone that supported and enjoyed out 2015 Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival. We had a wonderful time, and are already looking forward to our fourth annual festival in 2016. Please check back later this year in the early fall for information. In the meantime, here is a look back at our 2015 festival!


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 from Fort Lewis College and is now beginning his studies as a musicology student at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Although he is only twenty-three years old, Adam has been a featured performer and lecturer at ragtime and jazz festivals across the United States, and he is the youngest three-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, and 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. His recordings have been used on the CBC TV show Murdoch Mysteries.

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.

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 who has enjoyed 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.

Carl Sonny Leyland | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalCarl Sonny Leyland is 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.


Domingo Mancuello | Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz FestivalDomingo Mancuello has been playing piano since he was six and working with his piano teacher since the age of seven at which time he started developing ragtime versions of the songs in his beginner piano book. Domingo made his first public début at the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest in 2013, winning fourth place. He has played in the Central Pennsylvania Ragtime Festival and been heartily welcomed into a community of stellar and accepting musicians. Domingo currently attends the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where he majors in theatre with a focus in Directing.



Todd Robbins at the Durango Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival Todd Robbins, Master of Ceremonies and Magician is a New York City based performer that has spent decades specializing in arcane forms of popular entertainment, offbeat amusements, and intriguing deceptions. He is renowned for his work with Coney Island and the sideshow, magic, circus, ragtime piano and traditional jazz, medicine shows, and burlesque. Recently Todd was seen in the acclaimed off-Broadway theater show Play Dead. He says, "It is a joyous evening of true ghost stories about real people and unholy resurrection that I created with Teller (of Penn & Teller)." Todd is also one of the partners in Magical Nights Inc., the producers of New York's longest running magic show Monday Night Magic and its sister show Magical Nights at Feinstein's. He is the author of the cult classic book The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing and the creator of the companion Modern Con Man DVD Collection. Todd is featured in the celebrated documentary American Carny: True Tales from the Circus Sideshow and can be seen all over YouTube and found on Facebook.