The Weekender: Blue Rodeo hockey, blind tequila tasting and Earth Hour stargazing
1. SNAP! 2011
Over 16,000 Torontonians are living with HIV/AIDS right now, and two more are infected every day. That’s why this annual photographic fundraiser for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) is more than just a fun, artsy event (though it’s that, too). Gorgeous photos and photo-based art make up the catalogue of the evening’s live and silent auctions, which raise money for ACT’s education and community outreach programs. March 27. $90. Canada’s National Ballet School, 400 Jarvis St., 416-340-8484, snap-toronto.com.
2. ETHIO T.O.
When we think of jazz-funk sounds from Africa, we’re usually thinking of Nigerian icon Fela Kuti thanks to Fela! (the much-lauded Broadway musical about his life) and accolades from hip-hop greats like Jay-Z and Questlove. Lesser-known artists from Ethiopia and Eritrea deserve props, too, though. Ethiopian ex-pat Girma Wolde Michael, who now lives in the GTA, headlines this weekend’s concert with his band Ethio Fidel. Support acts also come from Toronto, including Canaille, the jazz quintet fronted by Isla Craig. March 25. $15. The Music Gallery, 197 John St., 416-204-1080, ticketweb.ca.
3. PAINT ROCKS!
This OCADU fundraiser, which supports the school’s drawing and painting program, is part white elephant sale and part art auction. All pieces are by student, alumni and faculty painters, and are priced at $200. Art lovers bid on their favourite pieces but don’t find out who the painter is until they win. With pizza and beer on sale, this 19-plus event will almost certainly “rock.” March 25. $5. OCADU Auditorium, 100 McCaul St., 416-977-6000 ext. 312, ocad.ca.
4. JUNO CUP
After months of build up, the 40th annual Juno Awards are finally taking place this Sunday, and we’re not ashamed to admit that we’re excited (hello, Drizzy is hosting!). But before the erstwhile “Wheelchair Jimmy” even takes the stage, rockers and star hockey players are going head-to-head in the annual Rockers versus NHL Greats game. Watch for possible clashes between DJ Tanner’s hubby (Valeri Bure) and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy. March 25. $20. Ricoh Coliseum, 100 Princes Blvd., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.
5. EARTH HOUR ASTRONOMY NIGHT (FREE!)
Stars may not be on earth, but they’re a perfectly acceptable way to spend an Earth Hour. When the rest of the city turns off the lights, amateur astronomers join the pros at U of T’s department of astronomy and astrophysics to catch glimpses of celestial bodies like the Orion Nebula and the Pleiades. March 26. McLennan Physical Labs, University of Toronto, 60 St. George St., astro.utoronto.ca.
6. CELEBRATE WITH TEQUILA
Thanks to its frat boy associations, it’s easy to underestimate tequila. Chef Mali Fernandez hopes to bust the myths surrounding the spirit with a tasting menu of tequila-infused foods, with a prix fixe of starter, tapas and dessert. For hardcore fans, a tasting of three different tequilas is also on offer. To March 27. $45 prix fixe, tequila tasting: $24 (for blindfolded version) to $29, Embrujo Flamenco and Café Madrid, 97 Danforth Ave., 416-778-0007, embrujoflamenco.com.
7. SPOTLIGHT ON ITALY
This interdisciplinary festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification, with theatre, music, art, fashion and, of course, food and wine. This weekend, don’t miss La Festa, a humorous play about the quotidian cruelties a family can inflict upon one another (presented in Italian with English subtitles), or the fashion show of Juliana Carlucci’s old Hollywood glam-inspired collection. To March 26. $22-$32. Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St., 416-368-3110, canadianstage.com/italy.
8. RAISE FOR JAPAN: INTERNATIONAL CHARITY DANCE PARTY
The double whammy of earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 ranks among the most devastating natural disaster to hit any country over the past century. If you didn’t score tickets to the celeb chef–studded Support for Japan dinner on Sunday, take heart: there’s still this dance party at Augusta House, which is also raising money for relief efforts on the hard-hit nation. Fifty per cent of the proceeds go to Red Cross Japan. March 26. $10. Augusta House, 152 Augusta Ave., 416-841-5386, Facebook page.