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An Album with a Cause

December 2002

What started out as a fun idea for a Christmas album has turned into a serious labor of love.

Mark Puskarich of Westerville, formerly of the Piedmont area, thought it would be fun to reunite the former Aereon band to record the music in compact disc format. Although the band hadn’t played together since their teenage years in the 1980s, the four friends who formed the band liked the idea.

That was about four years ago. The idea moved forward with the purchase of upgraded equipment for Cody Romshak of Piedmont, who still performs.

“We wanted to record it ourselves,” Puskarich said of what became “A Christmas to Cure Cancer.”

In early 2000, the project hit a major roadblock when guitarist Lorne VanFossen of Uhrichsville was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Dave Clo is the fourth band member.

“When he became ill, we slowed down the work and focused on, ‘Is our buddy going to survive?’ and “What can we do to help him?” Puskarich recalled. “He got through it all, after the first year.”

Skip ahead to Puskarich and Romshak being at a Christmas party and deciding to go forward with the CD and to make it a fund-raiser for cancer research “because of what Lorne’s been through,” Puskarich said.

“When Cody asked me how, I said we should record some more songs, make them really, really good and have the proceeds from the CDs go to a cancer research charity,” Puskarich said.

When mulling ideas about what else to do, they agreed to perform at a benefit party at Columbus. The CD will be sold at the event, which is sold-out. The event is being co-hosted by Puskarich and former Dover resident Debbie Reiger and her husband Mike Hughes.

Puskarich approached her about helping with the event, knowing that she had been close friends in high school with Mike Bayer. The former Dover High athlete started at quarterback for three years and also played basketball in the early 1980s. He later died of cancer.

“We just wanted to entertain and play some songs,” he said of the concert. “It started there and now it’s gotten pretty big.”

There have been 1,500 copies of the CD produced, but that could increase.

The group decided to donate proceeds to the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at Ohio State University at Columbus.

“It made sense because there’s a lot of fund-raising that can happen in Central Ohio, and they’ve always had such a good reputation,” Puskarich said.

It also helped that he already knew, through

his sister, Lisa, someone at the James. He contacted Mary Yerina, associate director of development there. She and Brooke Foody, director of special events, were instrumental in all the support they’ve given to the project, Puskarich said.

Returning to the stage as Aereon are Puskarich, Romshak, VanFossen and Dave Clo. To help round out all the musical styles on the CD will be Mitch Fox of Carrollton and Rick Brown of the Seneca Lake area in Guernsey County. Jan Roll of New Philadelphia will sit in on drums when Puskarich plays guitar.

VanFossen continues to perform, playing guitar with the band for Elvis Presley impersonator Mike Albert, who performs nationwide. Fox and Roll also play in Albert’s group, and the CD is sold at his concerts.

Clo, the son of a former St. Clairsville Baptist minister named Clot, changed his name for professional reasons. Clo majored in jazz at the University of Cincinnati and has written and published lesson books for guitar and base guitar. He’s been in several bands, including the Christian group All Star United. Clo has toured worldwide with All Star United, which opened for Third Day and Jars of Clay in concerts.

He is a professional musician in Nashville, Tenn., where he works with many Christian rock and contemporary artists. His basement is a recording studio, and Aereon recorded three songs there on Labor Day 2001.

Except for those three, the remaining 14 songs on the CD were recorded at Romshak’s, in a little recording studio with a control room and sound booth in his garage.

“A lot of these songs are anywhere from 60 to 80 percent Cody,” Puskarich said. “He played piano, base guitar, percussion and sang most of the vocals.”

There’s quite a musical variety on the CD, ranging from the blues to country and even heavy metal. “Christmas Beach” is a Jimmy Buffet type song with music written by Romshak and words by Puskarich.

Puskarich said that those wanting to buy the CD may write to him at 5226 Columbine Ct., Columbus 43230.

“We’re asking that people make a minimum donation of $15 per CD,” he said, stressing that buyers include their return addresses.

Checks should be made out to The James, and may qualify as a tax deductible donation, he said.

Samples of the songs and additional information are available on a Web site at www.achristmastocurecancer.com

Purchase CD
A Christmas To Cure Cancer 6
Christmas Island
Last Christmas
Happy Christmas
Liz & Ralph & Calvin
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Guitar)
Grown Up Christmas List
Christmas Drive
Three Hundred Sixty Four
Merry Christmas Baby
Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight)
It's Christmas
Baby It's Cold Outside
Dance Of The Elves
Silent Night
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Piano)
The Secret Of Christmas
O Holy Night
  Click to view the song credits
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