Tag Archives: Staples High School Class of 1970

It’s Only Rock & Roll: Reunion Band Smokes

If they want music, most high school reunion organizers hire a DJ.

Staples High School’s Class of 1970 has Smoke.

That’s the house band — made up of ’70 grads Mark Smollin, Chuck Boisseau, Steve Wall,  Pete Morgen, Marc Bailin and Jeff Dowd (’71) — who played at their past few reunions.

Their 50th was delayed by COVID for 2 years. But Smoke planned to get together for their final gig this past weekend, when the Class of ’70 (coincidentally, most of whom are now 70 years old) gathered at the Norwalk Inn.

As always, they came in a few days early to rehearse. But COVID is not yet over. The virus infected the band. They had to cancel.

It was a bitter disappointment, for them and their many classmates/friends/ fans/groupies.

But the Class of ’71 rode to the rescue.

They’ve got their own reunion band — called (go figure) The Reunion Band. (They also played a legendary Levitt Pavilion show, in 2019.)

The Reunion Band rocked the packed Levitt Pavilion in 2019, at a memorial concert for former member Charlie Karp. Comprised entirely of graduates of Staples High School’s Class of 1971, its members have played and recorded with — among many others — Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, Van Morrison, Smokey Robinson and Orleans. (Photo copyright Ted Horowitz)

When Smoke went up in ashes, Smollin asked Reunion Band front man/multiple Emmy winner Brian Keane for help.

There were many reasons not to: Brian’s looming movie scoring deadlines, his son coming to visit, no time to rehearse. And his partner and fellow band member, Bonnie Housner Erickson, was in the midst of planning her own (delayed) reunion.

But quickly, Brian and Bonnie said: Let’s put on a show!

It did not matter that the last time the Reunion Band played together was that Levitt gig. They’re pros.

They contacted 3 other Reunion Band members: Rob and Julie McClenathan, and Dave Barton. They could not get Michael Mugrage (previously scheduled engagement) and Bill Sims (in Vermont).

But they added some high-powered, non-’71 musicians: Leigh Sobel (SHS ’68, lead singer of famed Mandrake Root); David Giardina (SHS ’70), Tim DeHuff (SHS ’72), and non-Stapleites Tony  Aiardo and Arti Dixson.

Bonnie says, “Our collective belief of never turning down a comrade in need, coupled with our decades-long backgrounds as music and theater producers won out. It was ‘all hands on deck,’ making this happen for our friends.”

With no rehearsal — but plenty of professional chops — the Reunion Band rocked the Norwalk Inn. They played the music everyone loved (and that Smoke would have played). The Class of 1970 partied like it was 1999.

The Reunion Band at the Norwalk Inn. From left: Tony Aiardo, Tim DeHuff, Bonnie Erickson, Julie and Rob McClenathan, Leigh Sobel, Arti Dixson, Brian Keane. Not pictured: David Barton, David Giardina. (Photo courtesy of Mary Gai)

“The unexpected plus for me was that I saw so many people I hadn’t seen in years,” Brian says.

“When you go to reunions you only see those from your own class, but in reality we go to school with, and interact socially with, classmates a year or two younger and older too.

“I really felt badly for Smoke. I had played in school with many members. I knew how much they wanted to be there.”

As for the Reunion Band: They’re getting ready for their next gig. They play at their own reunion — the Class of ’71 — on October 1.

This time, they’ll even have a few days to rehearse.

BONUS TRACK: You don’t have to be a member of the Class of ’71 to enjoy this kick-ass reunion website (click here — then click “Flashback” from the dropdown menu).

And who designed it? The Reunion Band’s own Bonnie Erickson.

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

(“06880” appreciates donations from members of any high school class — anywhere. Please click here to help.)

Roundup: Street Sweeping, Trees Falling, Album Releasing …


1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker has invited Westporters to meet — by RTM district — at Town Hall. She and other town officials listening to their concerns.

And responding.

Dave Lowrie writes:

“Many thanks to officials and the Westport Police Department for the ongoing traffic and safety meetings by district over the last few months. And thanks also to our District 7 neighbors who voiced their concerns in person and via email.

“As a green pedestrian, my issue centered on walking and biking access along North Bulkley Avenue toward the Post Road. Two days after the meeting, through Monday, Public Works road chief Joe Izzo and his crew of 2 sweepers cleaned the shoulders along North Bulkley, and all side roads.

Kudos to 1st Selectwoman Tooker for moderating the Town Hall session, powerhouse RTM member Brandi Briggs and her counterparts for engaging constituents, town engineer Keith Wilberg and his staff. and concerned members of the Westport PD.”

North Bulkley Avenue, looking toward Old Road. (Photo/Dave Lowrie)


Amy Ancel has been watching the osprey nest at Terrain. She writes:

“Sadly, it’s been empty for some time. The male returned in March. In early April I last saw him on the platform, loudly and plaintively calling his heart out to his mate. I don’t think she ever returned.

“It was heartbreaking to hear. I’m just a curious and casual observer, but I think we’ve lost our dear and favorite breeding couple for good. It’s so sad. Nature is brutal.”

Have any “06880” readers spotted the osprey recently? If so, click “Comments” below.

Ospreys, in early April. (Photo/Carolyn Doan)


It was not exactly the Welcome Wagon.

Last week, a family moved in to a newly built Gorham Avenue home.

In Monday night’s rain and windstorm, a tree fell on their property.

There was a bit of damage to their porch, and lovely copper roof.

All we can tell them is: It’s not always like this!

Cleaning up on Gorham Avenue (Photo/Mark Mathias)


Tickets to see multimedia superstar Shonda Rhimes in person at the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” fundraiser have sold out.

But Westporters — and anyone else — can still join the June 1 (8 p.m.) celebration, via livestream. Tickets are $25; click here to purchase.

No recording will be made of the program.

Shonda Rhimes


Gabriele’s has added lunch and brunch to its dinner menu.

The Italian steakhouse that replaced Positano next to the Westport Country Playhouse is now open Tuesday through Friday noon to 2:30 p.m., and weekends 11:30 am to 2:30 p.m.

Dig in!

Gabriele’s Steakhouse.


Among other highlights, Westport Library’s VersoFest featured the debut of the first independent record label of any public library in the country.

There’s a limited pressing of the yellow vinyl and digital album, featuring some of the best emerging and eclectic talent in the tri-state region.

All preorders of “Verso Records: Volume 1” come with digital downloads of Daniprobably’s “Cowboy” (indie pop), Alexandra Burnet & the Stable Six’s “You’re Okay” (ethereal singer/songwriter); Ports of Spain’s “All You Can Carry” (indie rock), and The Zambonis’ “Gretzky Twist” (hockey rock).

Click here for details.

The album cover, designed by Tammy Winser.


The pandemic pushed Staples High School’s Class Of 1970 50th reunion back 2 years. They’re on for this year, on August 26-28  — and they’re turning it into a joint celebration of their 70th birthdays.

The high point — as always for their class — is a Saturday Night dinner-dance at Norwalk Inn, with live music from the class band Smoke.

Reservations must be made online (click here). The deadline is July 20. For more information, call Mark Smollin: 626-584-3997.


Our “Westport … Naturally” feature is big on nature — flowers, trees, animals. We seldom include human beings.

But Rowene Weems captured this intriguing photo Monday, near Winslow Park. Tree trimming is important work.

A few hours later, wind and rain caused power outages for over 1,100 Westporters.

Hopefully, none in this area.

(Photo/Rowene Weems Photography)


And finally … because today is 4/20:

Remembering Bill Kashetta

Many Westporters knew Bill Kashetta as a great and generous carpenter, always willing to help with his expertise and a smile. He always charged his friends less than the going rate — and everyone was his friend.

Many Westporters also knew Bill Kashetta as an avid fisherman and golfer.

Generations of Westporters knew him as a coach. He helped start the Westport PAL basketball program, and was a member of the Staples High School boys basketball staff for several years.

But unless you were a native Westporter, you probably did not know that Bill Kashetta was one of Staples’ greatest all-time athletes. He starred in 3 sports — football, basketball and baseball — as a member of the Class of 1970.

Big, fast and talented, he thrilled Wrecker fans with his athleticism, competitive spirit and toughness.

Bill Kashetta died last week at Connecticut Hospice, after a 2-year battle with lung cancer. He was 67.

Bill Kashetta, at Staples High School’s Class of 1970 35th reunion. (Photo/Mark Smollin)

Tributes to his fun, outgoing personality and indomitable spirit poured in on social media.

He is survived by his wife Deirdre; sons David and Daniel; daughter-in-law Sarah; 3 grandchildren; his father Charles; brothers, Chuck, Mike and Tom, and a niece and nephew. He was predeceased by his mother, Jean.

A memorial mass will be held at a later date.

Former teammate Steve Baumann sends this newspaper clipping of Bill Kashetta, leaping high to grab a rebound.