Skip Parsons' Riverboat Jazz Band -


Historical Photos


by Cliff Lamere    29 Apr 2006    revised 29 March 2016




(Unless mentioned otherwise, photos were provided by Skip Parsons.)



In September 1956, Skip Parsons, Tom Brown, and Don Lavoie formed a band called the Riverboat Six.  It was composed of Skip (clarinet), Tom Brown (drums), Don LaVoie (cornet), Dick Picotte (trombone), Stan Muraski (piano), and Jim Lawyer (bass).  Carl Lunsford (banjo) was added about April or May 1957.  At that time the band was renamed the Riverboat Jazz Band.  Dick Picotte went into the US Air Force during the summer of 1957.  That left an open trombone position which was filled by Bob Monroe. About 1960 or '61, the name became what we know today as the Skip Parsons' Riverboat Jazz Band.




The Riverboat Six in 1957 at Dale's Restaurant in Albany, NY, corner of Central and Clinton Avenues.

This was shortly before adding a seventh member and changing the name to Riverboat Jazz Band. 

(L-R)  Dick Picotte, trombone; Stan Muraski, piano; Jim Lawyer, bass; Don LaVoie, cornet; 

Tom Brown, drums, and Skip Parsons, clarinet.

SourceTimes Union (online), Jan 6, 2011.



This article is one year after the 1957 formation of the group.

Layer should be Lawyer.

(image from an internet newspaper site)




The Riverboat Six (1957) at Reiner's Barn in Loudonville, NY.

(L-R)  Dick Picotte, Stan Muraski, Tom Brown, Don LaVoie, Skip Parsons.

Jim Lawyer on roof.



The Riverboat Jazz Band about 1958, upstairs at Dale's Restaurant, Albany.

Front Row:  Carl Lunsford, Stan Muraski (piano)

Back Row:  Bob Monroe, Skip Parsons, Jim Lawyer, Don LaVoie, Tom Brown



The Riverboat Jazz Band at the Schenectady Locomotive Club about 1957.

Bob Monroe (trombone), Tom Brown (drums), Jim Lawyer (bass), Don LaVoie (trumpet),

Carl Lunsford (banjo), Harold "Chick" Austin (piano), Skip Parsons (clarinet)  (L-R)





Read the newspaper article about the 1962 concert at Glass Lake Hotel that included "Wild Bill" Davison as a guest performer with the Riverboat Jazz Band.  You can see both the original hard-to-read article, and my transcription of the text (below the photo) which is much easier to read.




Skip Parsons playing clarinet circa 1970.

(Photo by Walt Huening)
SourceTimes Union (online), Jan 6, 2011.



Skip Parsons, Tom Scannell, Hank Dwyer (drums), Norm Pratt, Ernie Belanger (sousaphone), and Don LaVoie (banjo).

The Skip Parsons' Riverboat Jazz Band was the official Jazz Band for the February 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY.  

Hired by ABC-TV, the RJB was in Lake Placid for two weeks and was broadcast on international television.

According to Skip, "The RJB was selected to be the first thing on Documentary Tape in the Smithsonian Institute."  

(photographer unknown, photo curtesy of Skip Parsons)



At a party at the Governor's Mansion, Albany, NY, about 1984 or 1985.  

Rich Skrika (piano), Ernie Belanger (sousaphone), New York Governor Mario Cuomo, 

Gene Hutchinson (drums), Skip Parsons (clarinet), Tom Scannell (cornet), and Norm Pratt (trombone).  (L-R)

(photo taken by Governor's official photographer)

(Photo courtesy of Skip Parsons)



Mendelssohn Club of Albany, NY on May 15, 1987 at Chancellor's Hall in Albany, NY (Myron Hermance, conductor).

Skip Parsons' Riverboat Jazz Band players from L-R are Rich Skrika, Ernie Belanger, Skip Parsons, Tom Scannell, 

Norm Pratt, and Tom D'Andrea.  This was a standing room only performance.  

(photo by Walt Huening; courtesy of Skip Parsons)



[The following does not belong on this webpage, but I had nowhere else to put it.]



Published in the Times Union (Albany, NY), Thursday, June 16, 1994

GREG HAYMES Staff writer

Summer's here, and the time is right to go cruisin'. Skip Parsons has gone cruising every summer for more than a decade and a half, and when he does, he always brings along a boatload of his very talented friends for a red-hot romp through the old-time jazz stylings of New Orleans and dixieland riverboats.

Well, he's doing it again on Saturday night with the 16th annual Skip Parsons' Lake George Hot Jazz Party & Cruise. Clarinetist Parsons and about 30 of his musical pals will gather on board the Lac Du St. Sacrement, which will leave the dock at 8 p.m. for a three-hour musical cruise around Lake George. Four bands will be featured in four separate musical areas throughout the boat Nick Palumbo's Dixieland Update (led by clarinetist Palumbo and trumpeter Bruce Fairbanks), Ralph's Moldy Figs (with clarinetist Joe Muranyi), the Don LaVoie Quintet (featuring cornetist LaVoie and banjoist Deacon Jim Lawyer) and, of course, Skip Parsons' Riverboat Jazz Band (with cornetist Ed Polcer and trombonist Ed Hubble).

As a special treat this year, the popular Capital Region jazz vocalist Colleen Pratt will be on board, and she'll be making the rounds to all four stage locations on the boat to sing a few tunes with each of the bands.

Advance tickets for the cruise are going for $30, and if there are any left, they'll also be available at the pier on Saturday for $35. For information, call 439-2310.