- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - During the daytime, Chris Kaskie works in consumer lending at Home Federal Bank. Those who know him only as a banker would’ve been surprised to see him earlier this month, singing “Barbara Ann” with musicians who normally work with Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys.

That song was the culmination of a weekend in which Kaskie’s old band was inducted into the Iowa Rock “n’ Roll Music Association. The induction took place Sept. 6 at Lake Okoboji, Iowa.

In 1970 and 1971, Kaskie was a member of a band called Inner Lite, based in his hometown of Marshalltown, Iowa, the Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/1NGOOBy ) reported.

That five-man group put two songs in the Hot 100. “Hold Onto Him” made it to No. 42 and “If I Only Knew” climbed to No. 68.

“We just missed the Top 40,” Kaskie said.

Looking back on the induction, Kaskie said it was nice to be “recognized for something I did way back when.” But, he said, he’s also “had a lot of fun in between.”

Kaskie hasn’t been in a band since he moved to Nebraska. Many Grand Island residents, though, associate him with music.

For almost 30 years, Kaskie worked as a DJ at Grand Island nightclubs. Much of that time, he played tunes at Images at the Holiday Inn Midtown. He was also a DJ at the Bramble Bush, Red Baron and Erin Pub.

He currently sings with the Cross Point contemporary worship band at Trinity United Methodist Church. Previously, he was a member of the church’s choir.

The last two years, Kaskie sang in the Singing Christmas Tree. He has also performed at weddings and funerals

Kaskie has lived in Grand Island since 1975. He started at Home Federal in 1976, and is now vice president of consumer lending.

A 1969 graduate of Marshalltown High School, Kaskie went on to graduate from the University of Iowa in 1973 with a degree in accounting and financial management.

Inner Lite’s two hits were written by Ritchie Cordell, who later achieved great success with Tommy James and the Shondells. Cordell wrote “I Think We’re Alone Now” and co-wrote another James hit, “Mony Mony.”

In 1981, Cordell co-produced the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts hit, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Inner Lite’s manager got ahold of two Cordell songs before the writer and producer started working with James.

“They’re pretty good songs, especially for back in that era,” Kaskie said of “Hold Onto Him” and “If I Only Knew.”

Released in November 1969, “Hold Onto Him” didn’t get widespread distribution. People could buy the record in only five or seven states, Kaskie said. “But where it went, it was pretty well-received.” It hit No. 4 on a radio station in Des Moines. For some reason, the record hit No. 1 in Oswego, N.Y.

Kaskie joined Inner Lite shortly after “Hold Onto Him” was recorded. On “If I Only Knew,” he played harmonica and was one of two lead vocalists.

Kaskie was 18 when he joined the group in the spring of 1970, and stayed until late in 1971.

Inner Lite was a Top 40 cover band. In addition to playing their own singles, the band did songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream and Three Dog Night.

It was a busy time for Kaskie, playing two or three nights a week. But it was also a fun time and he enjoyed the popularity that went with the group’s success.

Kaskie left Inner Lite at Thanksgiving of 1971. By that time, he was a student at the University of Iowa, and didn’t have time to devote to the Marshalltown group. He was later in a couple of bands in Iowa City.

Over the last five or six years, Kaskie and his friends have reassembled once a year to play at reunions in Iowa. They are not all former members of Inner Lite. The band’s original guitarist and bass player have died.

Kaskie has enjoyed seeing old friends at the reunion concerts. He also had a good time at the induction weekend. The six bands being inducted got to perform and were asked to sign autographs.

Jan and Dean, a 1960s surf group, was also inducted that weekend. One member of that duo, Jan Berry, passed away in 2004. But his partner, Dean Torrence, performed at the ceremony. Three members of his band also play with the Beach Boys.

During the last song of the evening, the inductees who were still around were invited to sing “Barbara Ann” along with the Jan and Dean and Beach Boys musicians,

Kaskie, 63, doesn’t regard his time in Inner Lite as the pinnacle of his life. It was a good time, he said, but it was very hectic. While in the band, he had to work hard to keep his studies up.

Overall, he has “just had a really enjoyable life,” he said.

He and his wife, Mary, have been married 19 years. She worked for Grand Island Public Schools for 26 years as a teacher and a counselor.

Kaskie maintains some long relationships. He’s been a member of Third City Sertoma for 40 years, and is currently on the board of directors.

For 25 years, he was involved with the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce and Ambassadors.

He is also on the board of directors for Grand Island Senior High Fine Arts and Show Choir. He was in the first Leadership Tomorrow class in 1988, and has helped with several United Way campaigns.

Kaskie isn’t the only member of his family with a talent for music.

A daughter, McKenna, sings with the Madrigals at Grand Island Senior High. She is also involved in show choir and a youth group at Evangelical Free Church.


Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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