The Coastline Swing Band...

Our History

When he moved to Rhode Island in 1993, founder Hank Burr knew that he wanted to organize a big band and he spent a year in the planning stage. Being new to the area, he had no musical contacts. After meeting local musicians and compiling lists of potential players and making many, many phone calls, by March of 1994 he had a band and he was able to assemble a library through the kindness of many sources.

The band held its first rehearsal in March of 1994 and has performed at various area restaurants including Mary’s Italian Restaurant and Rafters Restaurant in Westerly, the Best Western Hotel in Mystic and the Villa Trombino formerly on Rt.3 in Westerly. The Coastline Swing Band was a major attraction at the annual Charlestown Seafood Festival 1996-2000 and performed for the Charlestown Chamber Of Commerce Valentine Dinner Dance in February 1997 through 2001. In 2006 was selected to play for Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri in a fundraiser supporting Seniors Helping Others.

The group started out as a rehearsal band, but soon people began drifting in to hear the music and began to dance. Thus the group gained an enthusiastic audience and continued to perform. The musicians are of a very high caliber and come from Southern Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. They find their rewards from the social aspects and musical challenges of performance. The Coastline Swing Band, in its own small way, is helping to keep alive the big band sounds of the past.

Organizational problems forced the band off the air for a few years, but it was re-formed by co-leaders Hank Burr, Dave Francis and (now alumnus) Kit Johnson to hold the first rehearsal of the second herd on April 1, 2004 at the Wilcox Tavern in Charlestown. There have been remarkably few personnel changes since then.

Meet the Band!
Rob Hayden
Rob Hayden, Lead Sax, Alto 1, Emcee

Rob grew up in Wallingford, CT.  He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Ithaca College and a master's degree in music from the Catholic University of America.  He was a member of the United States Air Force Concert Band in Washington, D.C. and has played with the Georgetown, Annapolis, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras.  He spent six years traveling in the U.S. and Canada with his five-piece show band. 

In 1980 he embarked on his current profession and attended the University of Connecticut, majoring in chemistry.  He subsequently attended the University of Connecticut Medical Center in Farmington receiving the DMD, and completed his orthodontic residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.  He was a founding member of the Coastline Swing Band.

Hank Burr
Hank Burr, Leader, Alto 2

Hank, a graduate of Boston University and Hartt College of Music, is a saxophonist and noted educator who taught high school music and band in New Jersey for many years before retiring to Rhode Island. His groups performed and competed successfully throughout the Northeast, winning top honors at festivals and competitions in such places as Boston, New York, Atlantic City and Williamsburg, Va. Burr was also a past conductor of the New Jersey All-State Jazz Ensemble and has regularly been invited to conduct clinics at various schools. He and his wife moved to Charlestown, R.I. because of the scenic beauty and rural character of the area.

Brad Lavigne
Brad Lavigne, Tenor 1

Brad is one of the original members of the band and a principal soloist. He has great musical connections and plays in a number of other bands, on a full-time or part-time basis including String of Pearls, Bob Hughes's The Big Band, and Sounds of Swing. Brad attends jazz camp every summer to hone his solo improvising skills. When he isn't playing the sax, Brad is a gastroenterologist practicing in Westerly, RI.

Justin Holden, Tenor 2

Justin grew up in northwestern Connecticut and studied saxophone and clarinet with Jim Newton. While at RPI in Troy, NY, he played with various small groups, particularly the Bob Walther quartet, working virtually every weekend until graduation.
After a year teaching high school math and science, Justin headed to law school in Hartford and paid the rent playing tenor and clarinet with Johnny Dyno and the Dynamic 10, a regional polka band often featured at east coast polka conventions along with other polka bands like the perennial Grammy winner, Jimmy Stir.
After law school Justin moved to Boston and put his horns in a closet for almost 20 years.
After a move to Providence in 1977, Justin then spent well over a decade studying classical piano with Nancy Nicholson and then jazz piano with Joe Mulholland and Diamond Centofanti before picking up the tenor again.  In the late 1980s he formed a quartet featuring the outstanding pianist, Artie Marco, which then played around Providence for about 20 years including a steady gig at the CAV in Providence that lasted 14 years.
Justin has been the music director of the Nightlife Orchestra for many years and has been a regular member of the Johnny Badessa Big Band and the Duke Belaire Orchestra in recent years.
In addition to Coastline, Justin is currently a regular member of String of Pearls and High Society.

Jim Dygert
Jim Dygert, Baritone sax

Jim is a graduate of the Hartt School with a bachelor of music education. Graduate study was at Connecticut College where he received an MAT. He has studied clarinet with William Goldstein and saxophone with Joe Allard and Don Sinta.
Jim served in the U. S. Navy with several unit bands.  He later joined the U.S. Coast Guard Band as principal saxophone and retired as assistant director.  During this time he also played clarinet with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony.
In addition to the Coastline Swing Band, he is also a member of the Dick Campo Big Band. During the summer he also performs with the Silver Cornet Band. Jim has also performed with the Pat Dorn and Bob Hughes bands.
He has backed such performers as Hal Linden, The Temptations, Marian McPartland, Bill Watrous, Roger Williams, James Galway, Judy Collins, Itzhak Perlman and Renee Fleming.  Jim has also performed on National Public Radio and on the television shows Good Morning America and the Mike Douglas Show.
Jim is a part-time adjunct faculty member of the music department at Connecticut College where he teaches saxophone.  He also teaches clarinet and saxophone at the Thames Valley Music School which is located at the college.

Steve Close
Charlie Delinks, Trumpet 2

Charlie also started playing trumpet in the 4th grade in Old Lyme.  He was in the All-Eastern Band and CT All-state Orchestra before leaving for Mount Union College in Ohio.  He played in the Concert Band and Brass Ensemble, but decided eventually against music as a career and put the horn down for almost 10 years.
After returning to Old Lyme in 1978 Charlie was recruited for the newly formed Town Band. Eventually he joined the String of Pearls Big Band and left the world of "legit" music.
He now plays lead trumpet and manages the band with his trumpet-playing wife, Eve. Charlie's "day job" is running Caliber Computing, but he plays 2nd trumpet in 2 other big bands and subs in 2 more.

Steve Schneider
Steve Schneider, Trumpet 3
Steve grew up in Fairfield County, CT, playing in several local big bands while attending the University of Bridgeport.
After a brief Cruise Ship stint for Royal Caribbean, he finished his music education degree at the University of North Texas so he wouldn't have to drive a school bus for the rest of his life.
Steve holds a MM degree from the University of Rhode Island, and currently teaches elementary school music in Groton, CT.
Steve Nilson
Steve Nilson, Lead Trombone

Steve grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, and played in a number of musical groups there.  After that, he joined the witness protection program and dropped out of sight until he surfaced in Connecticut some years later and joined CSB.

Dave Taggart
Jon Simmons, Trombone 2

Jon grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, and spent summers in Point Judith. A Berklee College of Music alum, he has played professionally around the United States, including throughout the Boston area, Seattle, Honolulu, and Albuquerque. He is an accomplished writer and arranger, who also performs on bass and guitar, in multiple musical styles and genres. Jon has traveled the world and performed in Iceland, the UK, and Belgium, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.


Joe Livosi
Joe Livolsi, Bass Trombone

Joe grew up in western Maryland where, back in 1969 after hearing a teacher perform Lassus Trombone, he was hooked on the instrument.  He has enjoyed playing in Big Bands at Western Maryland College, the University of Rhode Island, and the Catholic University of America; the highlights being performances in Washington, DC at Blues Alley, the Kennedy Center, and various jazz festivals as lead trombonist with the Catholic University Jazz Band. 

In addition to CSB, Joe is a member of the Westminster (Maryland) Municipal Band, the Wakefield Concert Band and he performs with the ‘60s rock & roll band, King Huey and His Court in southern Rhode Island and Connecticut.  These last few years Joe has had the pleasure of working in association with the three-time Unity Award recipient, Tom Kendzia at Christ the King Church in Kingston, RI, where he organizes young musicians to take part in the Church’s Music Ministry program.

A chemist by training, Joe holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) and an M.S. degree in Organic Geochemistry from the University of Rhode Island.

Bill Fox Mills
Bill "Fox" Mills, Guitar

Fox plays frequently at venues throughout southern New England. He is featured with The Mystic Horns, 9 pc. Rhythm & Blues band, which has played at the Knickerbocker in Westerly, among other local venues. His mellow solos with CSB are always a crowd favorite. When he's not playing guitar, he is a master craftsman building boats at Stonington Boat Works

Bob Weirath
Bob Weirath, Bass

Besides his jazz chops, Bob is classically trained and plays with serious symphonic and jazz groups.

Gregg Charest, Drums

Gregg studied percussion with Walter Tokarcyzk, Craig McNutt, and Ronald Stabile, and can be seen performing around the New England area as a freelance percussionist. Gregg is a member of the Coastline Swing Band, The AFM (American Federation of Musicians) local 529 Newport, and has performed with the Dawn Chung Jazz Trio, The Ocean State Chamber Orchestra, the Southern Massachusetts Festival Orchestra and Chorus, and the Swanhurst Chorus Orchestra. Gregg is the full time Jr/Sr High School instrumental music director in the Exeter-West Greenwich regional school district.

Mark H
Mark Hinkley, Piano

After stints in radio, submarines, and urban planning, Mark spent his career in reinsurance, as an underwriter and a manager. After retiring in 2007, he moved to Charlestown, RI, where he lives with his partner, Virginia Lee.
Music has remained a welcome undercurrent throughout his life. Outside of some piano lessons, music has just been absorbed, rather than taught, from diverse places, people, and genres. Mark has particular interest in jazz improvisation, because that's how he learned to play, and will always try his hand at any instrument he is allowed to pick up.
Mark has experience serving on boards such as Results for Development, Music for People, Outward Bound, and the Charlestown Land Trust. He is convinced that music can transcend its vital role of personal expression and enable groups and communities to function more democratically and more generously.

Heidi Willson
Heidi Willson, Vocals

Heidi Willson spent 21 years in the Navy Music Program as a woodwind instrumentalist, keyboardist and vocalist, performing across the US and parts of Asia.  In the 13 years since retiring, Heidi has been the music director for a contemporary worship band in a church in MA and earned a BA in Music from Rhode Island College.  Heidi enjoys writing music and had her first worship song published this year.  Heidi is married to Allan, also a retired Navy musician, and has 3 children.