The HMS Razzamajazz   

In the beginning, 1990

Shades of Mississippi riverboat jazz will echo up and down Stratford’s Avon River this summer. While there won’t be a large stern-wheeler sailing the Avon, the Stratford tourism department is set to acquire a 24-foot barge that will ply the river at least two nights a week, offering live jazz from a floating stage. Officials were hopeful that the barge would be seaworthy in time for the Stratford Festival opening June 1. 

The project was organized by the tourism department and funded by the Stratford Hotel-Motel Association. The barge cost $1,000  with the other $2,000 needed for safety equipment such as lifejackets, advertising and promotion. Northwestern secondary school students volunteered to install a new floor, railings and carpeting on the barge. The board of parks management approved the jazz barge and special approval was given because a city bylaw prohibited operation of motorized craft on the Avon, except for the H.M.S. Pinafore  (now the Juliet III) tour boat and a few electrically-powered paddle boats.  The main act was "39 Casino Band", who volunteered their time.  Source: Stratford-Perth Archives

1939 Casino Band leader Jack Hayter was taken in 1995 when the band first released their first CD

New boat 1996 

The H.M.S. Razzamajazz  cruised Lake Victoria the summer of 1996 thanks to the generosity of the Rotary Club of Stratford, Arden Park Hotel and local residents who donated money for a new motor. They each provided donations of $1,250 to assist with the project.  The old HMS Razamajazz  was replaced by a new $3,000 barge to accommodate larger groups.


Dave Sherwood was instrumental in getting the Razzmajazz in the water. In the beginning Jack Hayter, leader of Stratford’s own ‘39 Casino Band, helped built the original barge and did likewise for the new one. He said the boat became “a little crowded” at times last year. “We thought maybe it was time to sell the old one and build a new one,” to cater to the '39 Casino Band and other local groups playing music from the barge as it moves along the river.

The 39 Casino Band Band members enriched the lives of Stratford citizens for five decades. They originally played for community dances in the 1940s and then voluntarily for events throughout Perth County. The band played  at hospitals, nursing homes and various community events, including the Stratford Festival's annual garden party. 

Jack Hayter believed the Razzamajazz had  become a fixture for the city of Stratford. He said. “many cities must be envious that we can have a facility like this one.”  


1939 Casino Band:  Bob Hayter, Jack Hayter, Wally Gladding, Jack Smith, Bill Fowler, Merv Doerr . For more on the band members see  The 39 Casino Band's Music    *  Click above to hear them play "Embraceable You"  from their recording of 19 songs called  1 MO TYM .

 (Music kindly provided by Susan Wigam, daughter of Bob Hayter ).

Now  2023

One of The H.M.S. Razzamajazz skippers is Dan Scarborough.  He said, the pontoon boat, 23 feet long by 10 feet wide, was once used by Ontario Hydro at the Bruce nuclear plant.  "It has room for small local acts of up to three musicians, plus a skipper.  The boat is still owned by the city, but for more than 20 years it has been operated and maintained by the Stratford division of the Tillsonburg Power and Sail Squadron". 

Other skippers are Marty Slimming,  Robert Paton, Bob McIntosh and Howard Wilhelm of the Tillsinburg Power and Sails Squadron .

Committee for 2023: Robert Paton, Flona Hildenbrand, Dan Scarborough, Bob McIntosh, Sherry Mason.

Each year the Razzamajazz  crew look to a variety of local donors to keep it afloat:  See their  website The Razzamajazz

*   For a list of dates for free live performances and performers see   Destination Stratford