Tag Archives: Holly Tashian

And The Grammy For Album Of The Year Goes To…

… Kacey Musgraves, for “Golden Hour.”

But there — standing right next to the country music star last night, at the 61st annual awards in Los Angeles — was Daniel Tashian.

He shared in the award — twice. He’s one of the album’s 3 producers — and one of 3 songwriters too. He shares both credits with Musgraves and Ian Fitchuk.

Daniel also played multiple instruments and provided background vocals. Previously, both the Country Music Association and Apple Music named “Golden Hour” Album of the Year.

Daniel Tashian and Kacey Musgraves, at last night’s Grammy Awards.

The “06880” connection: Tashian is the son of Barry and Holly Tashian. Both are Staples graduates.

Their names are familiar to Westporters. Barry fronted the Remains, the legendary band that toured with the Beatles. He went on to play guitar with the Flying Burrito Brothers and Emmy Lou Harris, among many others.

A longtime resident of Nashville, he carved out a rewarding performing, recording and songwriting career alongside his wife, the former Holly Kimball. She’s got a beautiful voice. Together, they’ve performed all over the world.

Neither the Remains, nor Barry and Holly Tashian, won a Grammy — though they sure should have.

But they’re just as proud today as if they’d won a dozen themselves.

(Do you know of any other Westport/Grammy connections? Click “Comments” below. Hat tips: Marc Bailin and Fred Cantor)

The Big Five-Oh

“06880” is fair game for just about every story — so long as there’s a Westport angle. 

I try to avoid missing-pet posts — though I did cover the expensive, long-running search for Andy, the lost corgi — and I turn down nearly every request about a Staples High School reunion. Trust me, I say to myself: No one cares about your little get-together. (My official response is more tactful.)

But Staples’ Class of 1964 reunion last weekend merits a mention. For one thing, the 50th is a Big Deal.

For another, it was a kick-ass class that came of age at an important time in Staples — and world — history.

For a 3rd, I gave a tour of the new Staples building to nearly 100 reunees. They truly loved what they saw, and appreciated the school they’d attended. They returned to Westport with the wisdom of adulthood, and the enthusiasm of teenagers. I had a blast, but they had an even better time. 

The Staples Class of 1964  included many outstanding actors, singers and athletes. Two members -- Paul McNulty (2nd from left) and Laddie Lawrence (6th from left) are back at Staples now, coaching lacrosse and track respectively.

The Staples Class of 1964 included many outstanding actors, singers and athletes. Two members — Paul McNulty (2nd from left) and Laddie Lawrence (6th from left) are back at Staples now, coaching lacrosse and track respectively.

So here — thanks to Barbara Range Szepesi, Arline Gertzoff and Bill Martin — is their report.

Many of them more than 100 members of the Class of ’64 who gathered last weekend were reunion first-timers who faced the experience with trepidation, deferring registration until the last possible moment. Others came only because another class member promised to be there. While many members of the class live locally, others came from all over the country: California, Florida, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee.

What happened was nothing short of amazing: the rekindling of friendships and more after 50 years of separation, the mixing of a vast cross-section of class members who might never have interacted during a normal school day, the bonding power of shared experience then and 3 days now.

The celebration kicked off Friday night, August 8, at SoNo Brewhouse. Gordon Hall, a beloved history teacher at Staples, reminisced with students he fondly remembered and just had to see.  Jack White, a pillar of education in Weston, shared memories with pupils who once were bused to Staples (there was no high school in the then-small town).

On Saturday morning, a large cohort toured the new Staples, so very different from the California-style campus of 50 years ago. Astonishment at how much the school has changed mixed with the realization of the great education we received there. We were the class that started senior year traumatized by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and seeing the “Ask not…” plaque from our class in the new courtyard only heightened our remembrances.

When the Class of 1964 entered Staples, the school consisted of 6 separate buildings. Walking between them was often an adventure.

When the Class of 1964 entered Staples, the school consisted of 6 separate buildings. Walking between them was often an adventure.

The gala reunion dinner was held at the Red Barn on Saturday night. Classmates feasted and were entertained by members of their own class. Eric Multhaup, Melody James, Sylvia Robinson Corrigan and Bettina Walton updated songs of the ’60s for today. Mike Haydn played both Mozart and an original piano piece, accompanied by Bill Reardon on the drums. Bill Briggs and Linda Clifford performed a duet. Holly Kimball Tashian and husband Barry Tashian (’63) played selections from their Nashville repertoire.

As memorialized in a poem written for the occasion by Josh Markel, it was a time for reflection and celebration. So much changed in the course of 50 years, not the least of which was hair color (or lack thereof). We had married or not, had children and grandchildren, sometimes divorced and started over again.  Careers spanned law, medicine and teaching; drama, art and music; business, social work, and beyond.

On Sunday classmates socialized at Compo Beach, a favorite haunt of 50 years ago. There, before a final class picture, quietly singing “Amazing Grace,” we approached the water and tossed 43 red roses into the Sound for the classmates we have lost and still hold dear.

Everyone stayed until the day ended with handshakes, hugs, and the hope to meet again in 5 years.

43 red roses honor members of the Class of 1964 who are gone.

43 red roses honor members of the Class of 1964 who are gone.

Remembering Jeanne Kimball

Jeanne Kimball — the longtime Westport musician, music teacher and music lover who died at 96 on December 30 — was a much-loved woman.

Her obituary lists the dates and accomplishments of her life:

  • She moved here in 1953 with her husband Fred.
  • In the mid-’50s she founded the Westport Madrigal Singers and Unitarian Church choir.  She served on the board of the Connecticut Alliance for Music, and was very involved in their annual Young Artists Competition.
  • In 1998 she was honored with Westport’s Arts Heritage Award.

But facts are only one part of someone’s life.  Memories mean much more.

Joy Kimball Overstreet — one of Jeanne’s 3 daughters — sent these thoughts along:

Jeanne Kimball at 95.

“Mom adored Fred (and was adored by him) from the time they met at 17 at a Unitarian church camp, till the day he died 63 years later.  His return from work was the highlight of her day.  She changed into ‘something nice’ just for him.  While dinner (and we kids) waited, they retreated into the living room for cocktails together.”

After he retired, if he wanted to sail for the weekend she put aside her own plans, packed food, and “happily poked around the Sound with him on his tiny boat.”  They slept in sleeping bags alongside the centerboard.

She managed most of Fred’s care during 2 years of cancer treatments.  After he died in 1994 she took on more singing students, and kept up her garden.  She loved arranging fresh flowers and greens, and putting up fruits and vegetables.

Her students cherished their time with her.  Her vocal coaching style was direct.  For her, singing was communication.  She was a vocal coach practically to her last breath.  Two days before she sank into unconsciousness,  when her nephews sang her carols, she weakly waved her hand.

“Not ‘happy new YEAR,'” she whispered.  “It’s ‘happy NEW year.’  Emphasize what’s most important.”

“Her ambitions were modest,” Joy said.  “She was content to be a homemaker and ‘hobbyist’ musician.  Still, the upcoming concert had to be the best it could, and enough tickets needed to be sold to pay the director’s small salary.

“Now and then there would be talk of making the Madrigals professional, with concert tours and a recording contract, but she was perfectly happy staying local and amateur.”

Jeanne Kimball at 84, making flower arrangements for her granddaughter's wedding.

A few years ago, in failing health, she moved into an addition built onto her daughter Holly and son-in-law Barry Tashian’s home in Nashville.  (Both have enjoyed long and successful careers as professional musicians.)

Almost to the end, she chopped carrots and celery.  She did daily vocal warmups at the piano.  Family, neighbors, visitors, the dog — “whoever was around” — participated.

“She never let go of her manners, her sense of humor and her delight in the wonders of being alive,” Joy said.  “She always expressed interest in visitors’ lives and asked appropriate questions, even when the answers mystified her and were instantly forgotten.”

Despite a drastic decline in her thinking abilities, she remained “cheerful, grateful and happy to be wherever she was.”

And thousands of Westporters — touched by her music teaching, promotion or playing — remain grateful and happy to have had Jeanne Kimball in their lives.

(A memorial service will be held Sat., April 2 at Westport’s Unitarian Church.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Rd., Westport CT 06880, or the Unitarian Universalist Association, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108.  Condolences and remembrances can be emailed to Faith Lyons: faith1943@verizon.net.)