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Stark State students jam with professional guitarist, help raise funds for cancer awareness

Jamming to Raise Funds

Jamming, from left: Peter DiStefano (guitar) Matthew Vick (bass guitar), Greg Shade (drums), Jeff Rutter (guitar).

Three songs on a new album by a famous guitarist have a Stark State College vibe.

Professional guitarist Peter DiStefano, best known for creating powerful music with his bands Porno for Pyros and Lance Herbstrong, jammed with Stark State’s commercial music students this summer at the Downtown Canton Satellite Center. At the invitation of student Heidi Roush, DiStefano visited instructor Aaron Shay and some students and friends to conduct a guitar clinic, answer questions about the music business and create some musical magic.

“They had great mojo together,” Heidi said. “They were asking him all kinds of questions and Pete said he was learning things from them. Once they got playing, they whipped out these three songs off the top of their heads, taking leads from each other. When all was said and done, he said, ‘Those were three of the best songs I’ve ever heard and I want those on my album.’”

The young men who worked with the guitarist were schooled in many ways, Roush said. “They all thought it was one of the best experiences of their lives,” she said. “It gave them a boost of confidence with their career choice.”

The three songs recorded at SSC are featured on DiStefano’s tenth solo album, AWARE, which is being released exclusively through a ManExam as a project designed to raise awareness about self-exam for testicular cancer. DiStefano, a testicular cancer survivor, says it comes down to saving lives.

“Younger men are often uneducated about the symptoms of testicular cancer,” he has said, “and not knowing can cost them their lives.”

The “Ohio Jam” musicians are

  • Greg Shade – drums (all songs)
  • Jeff Rutter – guitar (all songs)
  • Matt Vick – bass (all songs)
  • Mike Vavrek – guitar (on "Fearless")
  • The album was mixed by Aaron Shay and Heidi Roush at Electric Elephant Audio.

For a listen to a piece of the SSC jam session, head to

For a free download of the album, go to
To learn about ManExam, check out