Skip Parsons was born in Albany, NY in 1936. He attended several school districts in that area, and began to play clarinet at the age of 9. At 12 he played & led his first dance job, which led to more. In high school he took a fancy to Early Style Jazz, and began to also collect some Benny Goodman & Louis Armstrong recordings.
In 1956 following several Sunday Jam sessions, Skip formed the Riverboat Six. Later, due to the addition of banjoist Carl Lunsford the 6 was changed to The Riverboat Jazz Band. This was brief, as Carl went to San Francisco to join the well known Turk Murphy Jazz Band. The group, despite his absence, became quite popular in the Capital District. They went on to the college & night club circuit. After some road tours, they were asked in 63 & 64 to play aboard the Oslofjord, pride liner for the Norwegian American Lines. This cruise led to appearances with comedian Jackie Leonard. The later years of the 60s brought about RJB concerts with Cutty Cutshall, Jimmy McPartland, Wild Bill Davison, and more. The band enjoyed radio & TV too, featuring appearances with Mary Ann Mobley, Jack Smith & Woody Herman, I
It was about this time that Skip took to playing Soprano Saxophone along with some other saxophones/ Soprano now remains as a permanent part of his performance.
During the 70s Skip was organizer of the Great Northeastern Jazzfest in 78 & 79 at Greenville, NY This unfortunately was a short lived event that featured Chris Griffin, Pee Wee Erwin, Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern, Cliff Leeman, Ed Hubble, Dick Wellstood, Major Holly & many more.
Skip began the 80s by bringing the RJB to the 1980 Winter Olympics. Employed by ABC Sports literally brought the sound of the band around the world.
Also, in 1980 Skip assembled the Lake George Hot Jazz Party. This became a three day annual event that lasted 20 years. The event featured more than 25 jazz musicians. These performers included Doc Cheatham, Warren Vache, Ken Peplowski, and many more to numerous to mention. The event was held aboard the S.S. Lac Du St. Sacrament, and the Roaring Brook Ranch.
RJB Festival appearances include; Newport at Saratoga, Waterloo, Ottawa International,Syracuse Bix Bash and the Pee Wee Russell Stomp, to cover a few.
Later into the 90s Skip began to front some smaller groups. These include trios & quartets, as well as the larger 7 piece Riverboat Jazz Band. During recent summers Skip has featured his Clarinet Marmalade Trio aboard the American canadian, Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Skip formerly appeared in concert with, or has been a member of, bands fronted by Doc Cheatham, Jimmy McPartland, Spegile Wilcox, Big Chief Russell Moore, Ed Polcer, Spanky Davis, Vic Dickinson, Kenny Davern, Warren Vache, Peter Ecklund, Jon Eric Kelso, Terry Waldo, Will Alger............. more.
There are recordings available with Joe Slovac (formerly an Eddie Condon member). There are also other CDs available. Still a popular seller is The Riverboat Jazz Band including Rennie Crain, Ed Hubble & Paul Monat, all who are familiar names associated with this style jazz, Plus Skips Clarinet Marmalade Trio. More CDs have been recorded, but have yet to be issued
Skips commitment continues into the new century with a busy schedule of parks, gazebos, festivals and jazz venues throughout the Northeast.