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Durango Brass builds on tradition

A town needs a brass band. Something with trumpets and cornets, French horns, euphoniums, trombones and tubas.

Back in the day, it was common for each small town throughout the West to have its own brass band, a band made up of brass instruments and perhaps a drummer who whipped through loads of familiar songs, playing parades, parties or town dances, tunes from a variety of genres.

Durango had loads of these types bands back in the day, from information gained from Charles A. DiFerdinando of the Animas Museum, including a military-style band formed along with the formation of Fort Lewis College; The Smelter Band made up of employees of The American Smelter and Refining Co.; and The Goldenaires, which formed after World War II.

But the town had been without an official brass band for a number of years until Douglas Scott, or “Scotty” as he is known to his bandmates, stepped up and put together what has been a standing tradition in many small towns. The Durango Brass is a 12-piece and growing band founded and led by Scott, on hand to rip through the American canon of popular or not so popular music. It’s kind of like a rogue band of players, ready to show up just about anywhere and entertain.

The Durango Brass will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday on the patio by Mountain Monk Coffee, 558 Main Ave.

If you go

WHAT: The Durango Brass.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: On the patio by Mountain Monk Coffee, 558 Main Ave.

TICKETS: Free.

MORE INFORMATION: Email scotty.1313@hotmail.com.

Scott is a lifelong musician. It was piano lessons as a kid followed by tuba lessons, and he eventually switched to playing a drum so he didn’t have to carry a tuba. He studied music in college in Ohio, played in New York City and even had a band after he was drafted into the Army. Even when he left the music biz to work in the Aerospace industry in Tucson, Arizona, he continued to play.

Upon coming to Durango, he saw a need to get things going locally.

“We formed the band, as I had wanted to do that for a while. Before that I was directing the Silverton Brass Band for eight years, then when COVID came I had to stay away, but during that time I decided I would work on getting my own group together,” Scott said. “First of all, I think that Durango deserves to have its own band. We can perform along Main Avenue mostly, then maybe in some of the city parks.”

For Scott, it’s been a way to keep up a small-town tradition while digging into all of the musicians who call Durango home. It’s also a way to play multiple genres of music at multiple tempos.

“It’s quite a variety of music; we have Latin, we have jazz, we have blues, Broadway show tunes, movie tunes. So, it’s a mix of things and we keep it well paced. When we set up a show we make sure there’s a variety of tempos between the songs,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. The musicians that I have are all some of the top players here in town and even as far as Pagosa Springs. Most of the players are from here in town, I’m north of town a ways, but I don’t mind commuting because it’s a love of my life for me.”

Scott keeps busy as both player and conductor, as well as boss of the band. He’s looking to expand the number of players, as well as keep the band’s repertoire growing.

“I’m playing and conducting at this point, and we’re open to have other players join us. Of course, they’d have to read music,” he said. “I have plenty of music. We have about 125 arrangements, and we do a different show each time we perform.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.