have always loved Christmas music and I love my friends Cody, Lorne and Corrina and their talents. Back in 1997, I proposed the idea of recording a Christmas album just for the fun of it. It would be a way to preserve their talents and to share it with family and friends. Lorne and Corrina made the suggestion that we consider having Cody do the recording engineering. Cody had been dabbling around with a six-track tape recorder, and Lorne had been impressed with the overall quality. The idea was to upgrade Cody's equipment and do most of the recording in his garage studio. Around Thanksgiving 1998, we went shopping at CA House Music in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Over the years, we've repeated our shopping trip to add new equipment and upgrade technology. In 2001 we moved up to recording straight to a Mac, all digital using Emagic's Logic Audio software and plugins. This is the same DAW setup that Dave Clo has in his studio in Nashville. This works out great for collaborating on projects as we can just e-mail music files to each other.
Cody built an isolation booth for vocals and acoustic guitar. The first song completed was "Christmas Letter." Lorne played guitar and Cody did the rest. I was really impressed. I got even more excited about the possibilities of the types of music and quality we could produce.
At the beginning of 2000, we were faced with a challenge that threatened the life of our best friend and ultimately shaped this project into what it became. Lorne was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer in February. A yearlong battle ensued. After six months of chemotherapy, followed with radiation treatments, it looked like Lorne would be out of the woods in November. But, more complications developed that left Lorne's six-foot frame at 120 lbs. Water around his heart and right lung were a result of excessive radiation. Following treatment, he was released from the hospital to go it on his own. I'll never forget sitting at the Bob Evans in St. Clairsville, the last weekend in April 2001. Dave Clo was visiting from Nashville, and the three of us were watching Lorne slowly stuff down a huge breakfast. After more than a year of having his appetite diminished, this was a memorable occasion. Three months later, he had gained 50 lbs., and looked and acted more like the old Lorne.
From the very beginning of Lorne's battle, his wife Corrina never stopped believing the Lord would provide. The church and community pulled together with prayers, fundraisers and food. They watched the kids when needed, held a fundraiser at the Brightwood Golf Center Putt-Putt course, and hosted a spaghetti dinner from the Junior-Senior Youth Group at Park Christian Church in Dennison, Ohio. This helped raise money to assist with the bills while Lorne was unable to work full time. Corrina continued to pray that this experience would not be wasted and would one day be able to help others going through similar circumstances.
Lorne also received support in another form. Cody Romshak, Jeff Beadle, Kelly Clark, Curt Stoyanovich, Ronny Colbertson, Dan Kidd, Chuck Merkle and Keith Lucas all shaved their heads prior to Lorne's chemo treatments. Chuck, Jeff, Dan and Keith had Promise Keepers ball caps made with "Lorne's Team" printed on the back. The hats were provided for moral support.
In November 2000, the doctor told Lorne the cancer was in remission and he could resume eating dairy products. Corrina suggested he incorporate them back in his diet slowly. That evening they went to dinner and Lorne had a milkshake, cheese sticks, cheeseburger and cheesecake. He said the only side effect after that meal was extreme joy.
On Labor Day weekend 2001, Lorne, Cody and I headed down to Dave Clo's home studio called "Camp David" in Nashville to record "Santa Claus is Hangin' Round," "Run Run Rudolph," and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." We spent four, 12-14 hour days in the studio and had a blast... just like old times... Aereon was back together in the recording studio. These are three of my favorite songs on the CD. They all have a more "live" feel to them. We recorded the bulk of the music as one take and later edited and added as necessary. One astonishing factor of this trip was that we got Cody out of Ohio, let alone Piedmont. This was his first trip to Nashville, and other than being homesick, I think there was a part of him that wanted to stay. (Probably to help organize Dave's cluttered studio.)?
Written by Mark Puskarich
This is an enhanced CD containing photos and video clips of our recording sessions. They can be viewed with the Apple QuickTime player.
CD produced and engineered by Mark Puskarich and Cody Romshak at "Tony's Heart" studio, Piedmont, Ohio.