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Musician Corin Raymond is raising Canadian Tire money to help pay for his next endeavors.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail/Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

ART

Come Up To My Room

We have no reservations in recommending an alternative-design event of public-space projects and hotel-room-set exhibitions. J an. 27 to 29. $5 to $10. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635, comeuptomyroom.com.

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1955: A Group Show

The Vietnam War began, the game of Scrabble debuted and Elvis ate his first McDonald's burger. Yes, it all happened in 1955, the year in which the era-documenting photographs of this group exhibition – including works by Larry Morris, Charles Swedlund and George S. Zimbel – were taken. To Feb. 18. Free. Stephen Bulger Gallery, 1026 Queen St. W., 416-504-0575.

Lauren Hall

With her exhibition Crystal Column and Clear Shrines of Pearl, the Canadian artist Lauren Hall works humble building materials into lovely new sculptural works that reference topography as extreme as remote arctic landscapes and sunny tropical beaches. To March 3, Tuesdays to Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Free. University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo, Ont., 519-888-4567.

CLUBS

Catl

The hypnotic boogie-blues troupe hasn't wowed the traditional blues crowd, which is a rather odd development given that the trio's gutbucket style is quite rooted in the old electric traditions of Hound Dog Taylor or Junior Kimbrough. It's rugged dance music though, which is an endearing factor to Catl's younger, more athletic audience but a perhaps a problem with fans more sedate. Jan. 21, 10 p.m. $10. Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., 416-850-4579.

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The Way We Feel: A Celebration of the Music of Gordon Lightfoot

In the decade that Hugh's Room has held these annual salutes to the Sundown singer, Gordon Lightfoot has released just one album, 2004's Harmony. Not that the usual all-star cast of musicians and vocalists – this year including Rick Fines, Suzie Vinnick and Lori Cullen – are hurting for material. Jan. 21 and 22, 8:30 p.m. $36 to $38.50, 2261 Dundas St W., 416-531-6604.

JJ Grey and Mofro

Blues, funk and soul, done Florida-style, meaning there won't be a dry shirt in the house when this crew gets done. Arrive early for opening act Monkey Junk, an Ottawa blues trio who, as you'll surely see, roll and tumble with the best of them. Jan. 22, 9:30 p.m. $15.50 to $18. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 1-855-985-5000.

Rae Spoon

The new album from Rae Spoon, a Calgary artist now based in Montreal, is I Can't Keep All Of Our Secrets, a gentle and melodic electro-pop work that documents the loss of a friend and represents an evolving stylistic direction from a high-voiced singer-songwriter who once made a more rootsier brand of music. Jan. 27, 10 p.m. $10 to $15. Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635.

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CONCERTS

TSO – Beyond the Score: The Miraculous Mandarin

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has at Bartok's thorniest work, the one-act pantomime ballet with music that luridly expresses a sordid tale involving a prostitute, three pimps and a wealthy, desirous Chinaman. Thursday's concert is prefaced with a presentation that explains the piece through video and narration. Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. $23 to $76; Jan. 25 and 28, 8 p.m. (traditional concert, with The Miraculous Mandarin and Haydn and Brahms). $35 to $145. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-593-4828.

Classic Albums Live – The Beatles: Rubber Soul and Revolver

They don't look the (mop-top) part, but that's neither here, there or even everywhere for a rock orchestra that meticulously recreates iconic albums – in this case, a pair of pivotal mid-career Beatles records – completely live. Break out, then, the Vox amps and Rickenbackers. Jan. 27, 8 p.m. $39.50 to $49.50. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-593-4828.

THE INSIDER

Corin Raymond and The Sundowners are making a record, a live album that couldn't be more "Made in Canada" if it was scented with maple syrup, shipped by beavers and came with thimbles of Stompin' Tom Connors' blood. The plan was originally simple, offbeat and joyful: The local folk singer-songwriter would tape a pair of performances at The Tranzac over two nights, with the hook being that he'd accept Canadian Tire money for admission to the shows. The idea was to record mostly forgotten Canadian songs by mostly forgotten Canadian songwriters– the stuff of lost troubadours, from sea to shining sea.

Mr. Raymond blogged about it – at dontspendithoney.com, taken from his co-written sing-along Don't Spend it Honey! – and that's when things took off, virally and nationally. "People are sending me Canadian Tire money from all over," reports Mr. Raymond. "From Fort McMurray, from Nova Scotia and from Quebec." According to the Manitoba-born Mr. Raymond, a charismatic and tireless champion of the folk-song tradition, packages and envelopes are arriving daily, usually stuffed with the retail tender in bundles ranging from $5 to $15.

A YouTube video posted by a Vancouver supporter, suggests the best way to send the funny funds. "This video says it all to me," says Mr. Raymond. "If I had any doubts about what I was trying to pull off, this video came along like a spring breeze and blew them all away."

The iconic currency will go to The Rogue Studios, a Toronto recording facility which has a standing policy of accepting Canadian Tire certificates at par. So far more than $300 dollars has been raised for what Mr. Raymond refers to as a "madcap enterprise," towards a goal of $1,000. Of course, the money is as much a symbol of a musical Canada and community as it is a quirky down payment. The musician sees himself as a member of the "fun per cent," and he is absolutely rich beyond pocket book and coloured pieces of paper. Brad Wheeler

Corin Raymond and The Sundowners, Jan. 24 sold out. Jan. 25, 8 p.m. $15 to $18. Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Ave., 416-923-8137.

THEATRE

A Brimful of Asha

When a Indo-Canadian mother offers to take care of the wedding arrangements, she's not talking about flowers and reception details. Real-life mother and son Asha and Ravi Jain share the stage to tell this true and topical story of generational and cultural clash involving a bride-finding trip to India. Jan. 26 to Feb. 18 (previews begun Jan. 24). $15 to $22. Tarragon Theatre Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827.

Caroline, or Change

From Obsidian Theatre Company and the musical-theatre troupe Acting Up, finally the 2003 musical from the provocative playwright Tony Kushner makes its Canadian premiere. Set in small-town Louisiana in November of 1963, the theme is change – the small, loose coins at the bottom of purses and the bigger societal kind that happened as a result of the civil rights movement. Jan. 21 to Feb. 12 (now in previews). $26 to $45. Berkeley Theatre Downstairs, 26 Berkeley St., 316-368-3110.

Cruel and Tender

The film director Atom Egoyan returns to the stage for the first time in 20 years, directing his wife Arsinée Khanjian in an intense marital drama based on an ancient Greek tragedy, but set against today's war on terror. Jan. 21 to Feb. 18 (now in previews). $24 to $99. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-7723 .

DANCE

My Heart is a Spoon

A familiar figure on the city's independent dance scene, the choreographer Maxine Heppner is known for experimental and powerful works that defy easy understanding. Her latest piece, performed by the visiting Japanese dancer Takako Segawa and Canada's Gerry Trentham, explores the emotional and physical range of rage while riffing on the eye-catching art of Japanese cartoons. To Jan. 21 (7:30 p.m.) and Jan. 22 (2 p.m.). $20 to $25. Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St. W., 416-538-0988.

Peggy Baker Dance Projects

Three pieces make up The Sound and Feel of It, including Piano/Quartet, in which the iconic choreographer and performer Peggy Baker (who dances a solo in the program) sets four dancers in motion in a bid to translate through movement a series of complex poems by John Cage, the thinker and composer whose centenary is celebrated. The Canadian pianist Andrew Burashko is involved as well, for an exercise where prose is expressed, not heard. Jan. 21 and 22, and Jan. 25 to 29, 8:30 p.m. (Sundays, 4 p.m.). $22 to $28. Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St., 1-888-222-6608.

The International Association of Blacks in Dance

An annual conference hosts behind-the-scenes dealings and discussions on issues related to dance, Diaspora and the black community, but the general public is hardly left out of the mix. Evening performances happen at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the highlight being Friday's showcase involving leading companies from Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Denver and New York. Jan. 26 (6 and 9 p.m.), Jan. 27 (9 p.m.) and Jan. 28 (8 p.m.). $35 to $50. 190 Princes' Blvd., 416-504-7529 .

COMEDY

Jim Gaffigan

On his Twitter profile, the bacon-loving Indiana native describes himself as the husband to a hot wife, a father of four, a comedian, an actor, a writer and a former sleeper. In other words, a befuddled-but-clever daddy humorist. Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. $52 to $62 . Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255.

The Soaps: The Live Improvised Soap Opera

Stop them if you've heard this one before – but, of course, you haven't heard anything like it. A strong cast of improvisers makes it up on the spot for an unscripted melodrama set in Smalltown, Ontario, where a local radio station is in peril. Thursdays, 8 p.m. (pay what you think). Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor St. W., 416-551-6540.

LITERARY AND LECTURE

John Samson

The singing Prairie poet and Weakerthans songwriter launches his new book ( Lyrics And Poems, 1997-2012) by playing and reading, naturally enough. Jan. 23, 6 p.m. Free. Type Books, 883 Queen St. W., 416-366-8973.

History Wars at the ROM

Is this country's "medicare" an enviable social program or is it a bloated bureaucratic albatross? If an argument on whether or not Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglass put Canada on the wrong health-care path in the 1960s turns bloody, debaters Michael Bliss and Greg Marchildon will move their discussion to a free-of-charge emergency room. Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m. $25. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, 416-586-8000.

Steal This Idea

Why didn't we think of that? MP Olivia Chow, environmentalist Rick Smith and CBC Radio host Sook-Yin Lee each propose a bold idea worth appropriating from other cities on matters related to social justice, sustainability and civic culture. Jan. 26, 7 p.m. Free. (tickets all spoken for; rush seats may be available). Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., 416-395- 5577.

FUNDRAISER

Australia Day Concert

They're not from down under, but they're otherwise well Koala-fied. The Tranzac, the sociable Australian-and-New-Zealand themed club in the Annex, offers top-flight local indie rockers (including Sandro Perri and Andre Ethier) to cover classic music by Aussie artists. Jan. 26 , 8 p.m. PWYC; benefits to the Tranzac Club). 292 Brunwick Ave., 416-923-8137.

EVENT

Interior Design Show: Opening Night Party

The best way to assure a seat to hear the festival's opening remarks by the Milan minimalist Piero Lissoni is to win a bid on one of the 20 Julian children's chairs up for auction. The swank affair, not for kids, offers a preview look at this year's snazzy and artful contemporary designs. (Public design fair, Jan. 28, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Jan. 29, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $19 to $22). Jan. 26, 7 to 11 p.m. $55 to $60. Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W., interiordesignshow.com.

Monster Jam

These four-wheeled behemoths make Humvees look like golf carts, and account for 17 per cent of the earth's greenhouse gases. Jan. 21 (7 p.m.) and Jan. 22 (2 p.m.). $15 to $50. ($ 75, total access pass). Rogers Centre 1 Blue Jays Way, 1-855-985-5000.

FILM

Oklahoma!

Pride and a lecherous ranch hand stand between a hay-happy cowboy and his tumbleweed sweetheart in the film adaptation of the tuneful 1943 musical. The movie screens this afternoon as part of a weekly series of films from 1955 (including The Seven Year Itch and Rebel Without a Cause), offered in conjunction with the exhibition 1955: A Group Show at the Stephen Bulger Gallery. Jan. 21, 3 p.m. (film series, Saturdays to Feb. 18). Free. 1028 Queen St. W., 416-530-0011.

FREE

This is War

The earth-scorching general William Sherman famously said that war was hell, and not much has changed in that regard since the 1860s. Here, the star playwright Hannah Moscovitch examines the horrors of armed conflict, with modern soldier characters talking to an unseen journalist in a workshop presentation of her new topical drama. Jan 21, 26 and 28, 8 p.m. (no reserved tickets). Tarragon Work Space, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827.

FAMILY

Lunar Fest

There's plenty fishy about a waterless aquarium. A giant lantern installation where artful aquatic vertebrates seem to swim is a must-see component of a five-day happening that celebrates the Chinese Year of a Dragon. To Jan 24. Free, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000.

Aga-Boom

Serious times call for unserious shenanigans, none better than the sad-faced slapstick and red-nosed romping of this touring troupe of fools. Created by Cirque Du Soleil veteran Dimitri Bogatirev, a 75-minute high-energy diversion for the whole family. Jan. 22, 2 and 5 p.m. $25 to $34. Markham Theatre, Markham, Ont., 905-305-7469.

Robbie Burns Day Celebration

Our gut instinct tells us to stay away from sheep innards, but an afternoon of music and stories celebrating the Scottish poet's birthday makes the traditional consuming of organs positively palatable. Jan. 22, noon to 4:30 p.m. $3.33 to $5.71. Mackenzie House, 82 Bond St., 416-392-6915.

CONTINUING

Toronto International Boat Show To Jan 22. Direct Energy Centre, torontoboatshow.com.

Tafelmusik's Hercules To Jan. 22. Koerner Hall, 416-408-0208.

The Golden Dragon, To Feb. 19. Tarragon Theatre, 416-531-1827.

The Blue Dragon To Feb. 19. Royal Alexandra Theatre, 416-872-1212.

Tosca To Feb. 25. Four Seasons Centre, 416-363-8231.

The Penelopiad To Jan. 29. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 416-975-8555.

Kim's Convenience Young Centre, 55 Mill St., 416-866-8666.

BOOKING AHEAD

Joe Henry Jan. 30 Hugh's Room, 416-531-6604.

Rhubarb Festival Feb. 8 to 19. Buddies in Bad Times, buddiesinbadtimes.com.

Canadian Music Week March 21 to 25. cmw.net.

Nickelback April 22 (on sale Jan. 21, 10 a.m.). Air Canada Centre, 855-985-5000.

Paul Oscher April 28. Peters Players, Gravenhurst, Ont., petersplayers.com

Foster The People June 19. Downsview Park's Meadow Site, 855-985-5000.

Coldplay July 23 and 24. Air Canada Centre, 855-985-5000

bwheeler@globeandmail.com

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Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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