The Weekender: Samsara, TD Toronto Jazz Festival and six other events on our to do list

The Weekender: Samsara, TD Toronto Jazz Festival and six other events on our to do list

Coeur de Pirate, The Roots’ Black Thought and Lisa Ray 

1. TD TORONTO JAZZ FESTIVAL
Somehow, the organizers of this annual music fest always manage to book musicians that even non-jazz fans are dying to see. Case in point: this year’s lineup, which features Aretha Franklin, The Roots and Los Lonely Boys alongside more straight-up jazz offerings like Kurt Elling and Nikki Yanofsky. The Queen of Soul kicks off the entire festival with a free concert at Metro Square this Friday. June 24 to July 3. Various locations, 416-870-8000, torontojazz.com.

2. SAMSARA (FREE!)
We have a not-so-secret love of Bollywood, but no amount of dedication could score us tickets to the International Indian Film Academy Awards this weekend. Luckily for us, there’s this free street fest. Faisal Anwar has curated a film series of old and new Bollywood dance sequences. There are also two performance stages, one dedicated to classical music and dance and the other to all things fusion. Local girl Lisa Ray will rock the runway during two of the four scheduled fashion shows. June 25. Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, Toronto Bike Month.

3. THAT’S SO GAY: THE NEW QUEER (FREE!)
Pride officially kicks off its pre-parade lineup of plays, art exhibits, dance parties and family-friendly activities this weekend, including this two-week exhibit at the Gladstone. For the second year in a row, Sholem Krishtalka puts together a show that aims to figure out what “queer” means right now, and what it might mean in the future (The Grid’s recent cover story is one data point). Artists like Fastwürms, Alison S. M. Kobayashi and Team Macho have contributed pieces. June 23 to July 10. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., gladstonehotel.com.

4. CARDBOARD FORT NIGHT
We love a good evening of nostalgia and beer, and conveniently, this event provides both. Organizers supply the cardboard, duct tape and Sharpies, while attendees bring their own accoutrements for, ahem, pimping their cribs. Post-construction, a secret celebrity judge will award prizes based on “awesomeness,” followed by our favourite part: the Great Smashening of the Forts. It’s like we’re five again. June 25. $8. Dovercourt House Ballroom, 805 Dovercourt Rd., janesheisaclerk.blogspot.com.

5. DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE
This new film series (it premiered in the spring) is made for the cultural studies so-bad-it’s-good crowd. Every month, a pro movie reviewer champions a legitimately crappy movie, hopefully convincing the audience to overlook its obvious flaws. This month it’s Adam Nayman (The Walrus, The Grid) plumping for The Butterfly Effect. Now’s Norman Wilner hosts, and all proceeds go to the Red Door Family Shelter. June 24. $8. Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Rd., torontoundergroundcinema.com.

6. BATTLE FOR THE BOOT
The lovely, slightly intimidating ladies of Toronto Roller Derby are fighting for sports supremacy in this championship matchup. Reigning champs Gore-Gore Rollergirls go head to head with Chicks Ahoy! this weekend for pride, glory and a custom-made trophy. June 25. $18. Downsview Park Hangar, 75 Carl Hall Rd., torontorollerderby.com.

7. FRANCO-FETE (FREE!)
This annual multi-culti festival celebrates all things francophone. In addition to tutorials and workshops, there’s a charmingly eclectic lineup of musical acts. Montreal’s Coeur de Pirate (a.k.a. Beatrice Martin) will delight fans with her unique piano stylings, the reggae and world music fix will be provided by Ouanani, and talented singer-songwriter and Juno nominee Mike Ford (formerly the lead singer of Moxy Früvous) will be on hand as well. Oh, and there is a magic show—Québécois style. June 24 to 26. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 516-644-1575, franco-fete.ca.

8. MAKE YOUR OWN PILLOWS WITH DODOLAB
We might buy our pillows at IKEA, but crafty types can make their own at this Textile Museum of Canada event. Members of the art and design group DodoLab demonstrate several textile techniques, which attendees can then use to create their own unique designs. The only downside? The pillows are destined for inclusion in an ongoing exhibit, so you can’t take them home. June 25 and 26. $15. Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Ave., 416-599-5321, textilemuseum.ca.

(Images: Coeur de Pirate, Yann Orhan; Black Thought, theogeo; Ray, The Hour)