STAYNER - It is a snowy day in early March.
Jeff Parton is sitting at a table in Coffee Culture on Main Street in Stayner, enjoying a mug of something hot.
These days Parton, 57, is spending a lot of time thinking about his high school years. That's because Stayner Collegiate Institute is hosting its 50th reunion in May and Parton is a member of the reunion planning committee.
A highlight for Parton while a student at SCI was the time Rush, the iconic Canadian rock band, performed at the school. Actually, they performed at the school twice. The first time was in September 1970 and then again in April 1971.
Parton, now a retired teacher, breaks into a smile as he starts to explain how it all happened.
"Well I was voted in as student council president in May 1970. And we had a meeting, I believe in June, and my social convener was a Daiva Kryzanauskas. She was the pin to how it all happened. She'd moved up here a few years before. And at the meeting she mentioned she had a connection to Rush," Parton said.
He can't remember exactly what the connection was. Possibly she knew the manager. At any rate, Parton said she was able to get the band to come to Stayner.
"Nobody else in the area got them at that time," he said. "They rarely came north of the city. But we had the connection. So we paid $250 for them in September. We paid $600 for them in April because they were just getting more popular."
Parton said that at the time Rush was well known but the group hadn't put out any albums. It was still an up and coming band.
"But we all knew about them. They didn't have a lot of their own material but they had some. Their clone songs though were unbelievable," he said.
That September afternoon when the band arrived in town, Parton said they had only a small number of "roadies" - mostly friends he suspects - and very little equipment. In the evening, when they walked out on the stage in the gymnasium, they were met by 350 screaming teenagers.
"There was a lot of yelling. The place just went wild," he said, laughing at the memory. "They did predominantly covers. The Rolling Stones, some heavier stuff. I think they did some Grand Funk Railroad. I can't remember exactly what tunes because I was doing a bunch of running around, making sure the night was running smoothly."
The band - Geddy Lee on lead vocals and bass, Alex Lifeson on guitar and John Rutsey on drums - played for about two hours.
"I'm pretty sure it wrapped up around 10:30 or so," Parton said. "People just loved it."
Asked if people knew back then the band was going places, Parton gives a mixed answer.
"I think some people thought that," he said. "I don't know if I did - not knowing my music as well as some people. But you could definitely tell they had talent."
Parton noted that when he met the band back stage they were all "extremely" nice.
"The neat thing was I thought - because of the long hair - they were much older but they were my age," he said.
Lee, Lifeson and Rutsey were all 17 at the time.
SCI alumni will no doubt talk about Rush performing at the school and many other memories at the upcoming reunion. It's set for May 20-21. Events will take place at the high school and the Stayner Community Centre.
For more information on the reunion, visit www.sci50threunion.com.