A Guide to the 2013 Toronto Jazz Festival

The Bobby Sparks Trio.

  • Multiple venues
  • All day

The 2013 Toronto Jazz Festival descends on the city on June 21 with a huge “free for all” event. That means all of Friday, June 21’s programming at every Jazz Festival venue is, yes, completely free of charge. There will be concerts from local favourites Molly Johnson and Mary Margaret O’Hara, plus a show by Smokey Robinson and Martha Reeves, who will be launching the fest from its epicentre, Nathan Phillips Square.

Here’s a rundown of some of the shows worth checking out on Friday—and during the rest of the festival, when you’ll actually have to pay.

Details: A Guide to the 2013 Toronto Jazz Festival

Indigenous Arts Festival

  • Fort York, Garrison Common (100 Garrison Road)
  • All day

To honour the First Nations and Métis experience during the War of 1812, Fort York is hosting the Indigenous Arts Festival, which offers three days of dance, music, theatre, and more. Among the activities are dance work, The Honouring; a book launch of historical portraits by Donald B. Smith (who will be speaking as well); as well as what will likely be a memorable sunset ceremony.

Details: Indigenous Arts Festival

Pride Week Kick Off at Hart House

  • Hart House Quad (7 Hart House Circle)
  • 4 p.m.

There is certainly no shortage of events kicking off Pride Week 2013 in Toronto. But you can’t go wrong with this outdoor dance party at Hart House. The day begins with an outdoor community fair and barbecue, followed by an outdoor dance party (starting at 8 p.m.) featuring DJ Cozmic Cat, DJ Sammy Rawal, and a special dance performance by SC SWAGG.

Details: Pride Week Kick Off at Hart House

Hillary Clinton in Toronto

  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West)
  • 6 p.m.

Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, potential presidential candidate, and overall bad-ass, is dropping by the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to give the keynote as part of the Unique Lives & Experiences women’s lecture series. She’ll likely be talking about her many experiences, challenges, and hopefully offer some wisdom for the attendees. If you can get a ticket, do yourself a favour and don’t miss out (there are still some of the cheaper ones available).

Details: Hillary Clinton in Toronto

EAST Album Release Party

  • The Hideout (484 Queen Street West)
  • 7 p.m.

EAST, a jazzy/indie, youth collective, are releasing their first album Jazz Casino and are inviting you to help celebrate the occasion. The unique thing about this Scarborough group is that it has a unique fusion of sounds while also serving as a great community project. The night features performances by EAST, Perfeck Strangers, Rise Poetry, Epic the Grand, Dwayne Morgan and Scott Ramirez. Click here to listen some of their music.

Details: EAST Album Release Party

Blood Ties

  • Annex Theatre (730 Bathurst Street)
  • 7:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

Blood Ties is a musical by Anika Johnson and Barbara Johnston about what happens when a bachelorette weekend goes horribly wrong (based on a true story). Back in our SummerWorks 2012 roundup, we named it our number two pick of the show, calling it “the funniest show of the festival.” It’s only around for the one night and it’s well worth checking out.

Details: Blood Ties

Open Roof Festival with The Sheepdogs

The Sheepdogs. Photo courtesy of Open Roof Festival.

  • The Moonview Lot (175 Queens Quay East)
  • 7:30 p.m.

One of the best summer activities to check out in Toronto is back. The Open Roof Festival, which highlights Toronto’s indie film and music scenes, returns for a fourth year of weekly gigs/screenings. For their launch, they’ve secured the Juno-award winning band, The Sheepdogs, who’ll be playing an acoustic set before screening their documentary film, The Sheepdogs Have At It.

Details: Open Roof Festival with The Sheepdogs


Streets & Alleys

  • #Hashtag Gallery (801 Dundas Street West)
  • All day

Streets & Alleys is a series of photographs that originated from the artist’s bike rides through Toronto’s back alleys and side streets. The exhibition, which runs as part of Bike Month, is particularly relevant as it takes a close look at the role the bicycle plays in everyday life. The project is described by the artist as one that “would unite my experience as a documentary photographer with my love of bicycles.” The opening reception takes place on June 20.

Details: Streets & Alleys

Fred Caron’s Trust Isn’t an Issue

  • HUNTCLUB (709 College Street)
  • 6 p.m.

HUNTCLUB brings Montreal artist Fred Caron’s Trust Isn’t an Issue to its gallery for a two-week exhibition, beginning with an opening on Monday, June 10. The street artist is focusing on aspects of Stockholm syndrome for his installation’s short run in Toronto; later this summer, he’ll be the co-curator for on-site art at the Osheaga Festival. In addition to the opening, Caron is also doing an artist’s talk on Tuesday, June 11 at 7 p.m.

Details: Fred Caron’s Trust Isn’t an Issue

Thursday Night Bike Rides

  • Multiple venues
  • 6:15 p.m.

If you enjoy biking in the city (and of course you do) then get your wheels tuned up and join in Ward 29 Bikes’ weekly summer series, Thursday Night Rides. Here, you’ll have an opportunity to spin around neighbourhoods you might not normally explore on your own while getting to meet other like-minded cycling citizens. Be sure to check out their website for the starting point and schedule (also to get confirmation that the ride’s still a go due to weather, etc.).

Details: Thursday Night Bike Rides

Passion Play‘s Journey Through Time

The Director (Jordan Pettle) speaks to "J" (Andrew Kushnir) while they rehearse the crucifixion scene.

  • Eastminister Church (310 Danforth Avenue)
  • 7 p.m.

There are a lot of chefs in the kitchen for the Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, a triptych set in three time periods that tells the stories of amateur actors (played by real actors) involved in staging performances of the story of Christ. Three different Toronto independent theatre companies, all with reputations for innovative staging and creation in their past work, each tackle one of the three acts. Ordinarily, such a complicated arrangement would be to a show’s detriment, but not in this case. While you need to be prepared for a marathon of theatre (the show runs four hours, incluing two intermissions), you’re certainly going to get your money’s worth.

Details: Passion Play‘s Journey Through Time

New Toronto Production of Cats Meets Expectations

Cats Ensemble. Photo by Racheal McCaig.

  • Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street)
  • 7:30 p.m.

Cats is a challenging musical to stage for a number of reasons. The narrative is thin and strange; the lyrics are drawn primarily from T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, with more borrowed from some other Eliot poems, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” (which original director Trevor Nunn adapted into the song “Memory”) and “Moments of Happiness.” The result is not so much a story as ideas and character sketches. Old Deuteronomy, patriarch of the Jellicle Cats, calls the creatures together once a year to celebrate, and for one cat to be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (essentially, to die and be reincarnated). Most of the songs detail the adventures and virtues of a single cat in particular, essentially serving as that cat’s audition for the honour of ascension.

Details: New Toronto Production of Cats Meets Expectations

The Man in Black

Stephanie Hutchison, Jonathan Renna, McGee Maddox, and Kevin D. Bowles in The Man in Black. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic.

  • Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West)
  • 7:30 p.m.

Who says ballerinas can’t wear cowboy boots? Dancers of the National Ballet of Canada will do just that during the production of James Kudelka’s The Man in Black. Set to songs by the man in black himself—Johnny Cash—the choreography borrows from line, swing, and step dancing. As an added bonus, the show also includes a performance of Jorma Elo’s Pur ti Miro, Guillaume Côté’s No. 24, and George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations.

Details: The Man in Black

Luminato 2013: Ronnie Burkett’s The Daisy Theatre

Puppeteer Ronnie Burkett plays with an assortment of marionettes old and new in his nightly cabaret show, The Daisy Theatre. Photo courtesy of Luminato.

  • Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street)
  • 9:30 p.m.

Ronnie Burkett has solidified his reputation as Canada’s premiere solo puppeteer with complex full-length plays, like the Memory Dress Trilogy, or last year’s “apocalyptic comedy” Penny Plain. So it’s a rare treat to see him cut loose and perform The Daisy Theatre. It’s a free-wheeling show that’s different each night, with audience participation, special guests, and some new marionettes and stage trappings paid for out of Luminato’s coffers.

Details: Luminato 2013: Ronnie Burkett’s The Daisy Theatre

Luminato 2013: Jason Collett’s Courtyard Revue

Cover band extraordinaire Vag Halen playing a special Basement Revue show at Luminato in 2013 . Photo by David Leyes.

  • Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street)
  • 11:30 p.m.

Jason Collett’s Basement Revue has long been a local hot ticket for those with an interest in what the lanky musician and his Broken Social Scene pals are up to—with a generous mix of other literary, theatrical, and cultural talents mixed in. The nightly late-night Luminato edition, the Courtyard Revue, staged in the lobby of Canadian Stage’s Berkeley Street Theatre (and spilling out into the open-air courtyard), is offering more of Collett and co-producer Damian Rogers’ carefully selected programming. The difference, however, is that, with a larger venue and profile due to Luminato, some of the acts look to be more than one-night-only tryouts.

Details: Luminato 2013: Jason Collett’s Courtyard Revue