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So Long Seven’s latest is an introspective & immersive album influenced by lockdowns

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Guitar in Woods

So Long Seven performs at MooseFest: celebrating 5 years of Roots Music Canada, a one-night festival in honour of this website June 4 at Toronto’s TRANZAC. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. Get your tickets HERE

Once upon a time, Toronto had, not one, but two alt.weekly newspapers: Now – currently the sole survivor – and Eye.

The latter was arguably the slightly more “alt” of the two.

And once upon a time, in 1997 to be exact, the readers of Eye Weekly named Ravi Naimpally “Toronto’s coolest musician.”

In a city chock full of cool musicians, that’s quite an achievement.

It’s also not hard to understand why.

If true “cool” is about really being yourself and charting your own course not matter what anyone else might think, Ravi is one cool guy.

Read about our other MooseFest performers: Dave Newland, Onion Honey, Noah Zacharin, Tragedy Ann, Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville, Lynn Harrison and the Memberz.

From his early days studying tabla in Thunder Bay (!!) to his decades in Toronto, playing traditional music and working as a tireless innovator and cross cultural collaborator, Ravi has marched to the beat of his own tabla – performing with the Juno nominated Thomas Handy Trio in the late 90s – alongside the late Oliver Schroer – leading his own jazz-South Asian fusion band, Tasa, in the 2000s, and working with countless other onesembles, including Niyaz, Constantinople, Avataar, Monsoon, Near East, and Sansar.

His ensemble So Long Seven, which plays Sunday night at MooseFest: Celebrating 5 years of Roots Music Canada, is a band he put together with his equally musically adventurous neighbours, Tim Posgate and Neil Hendry – who collectively also perform with acts such as Ronley Teper, Chloe Watkinson and Colette Savard – along with violinist William Lamoureux.

It’s a blissful blend of jazz, classical and roots music with South Asian influences, and it frequently collaborates with the transcendent Indian vocalist Samidha Joglekar.

The ensemble released its latest album, Only the Elephants Know Her Name, in September.

It’s a more subtle and introspective recording than its predecesors, and it reflects the anxiety members were feeling at the time related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ravi said – particularly on tracks like “Mara” and the title track.

That said, there’s something else audible too in this beautifully immersive recording: a sense of joy.

Some of the recording was done shortly after restrictions on gatherings started to lift, and the band was able to gather again and play in one room. The ecstasy of that experience comes through, to my mind, on tracks like “Frolic of the Monsoon Frogs.”

The nine months since the album came out have been an interesting ride, Ravi said.

Immediately after pandemic restrictions lifted, people seemed to race out to live music events the way parched nomads race toward a desert oasis.

But then it stopped. Or at least it slowed down.

After an initial explosion of interest in live music last spring, which continued into the fall and winter, attendance at shows appeared to fall off a cliff at the end of last year or early this year, Ravi said.

The band showcased this winter at Folk Alliance in Kansas City, MO, and it hired a publicist to promote the new album.

So far, the results have been modest, Ravi said, but if he’s at all worried about it, it doesn’t come across in our conversation. Perhaps all these years in the music business have habituated him to its precarity.

Did I mention he’s cool?

The band will perform at the Toronto Jazz Festival later this month. And, as previously mentioned, So Long Seven performs Sunday night at MooseFest: Celebrating 5 years of Roots Music Canada.

Get your tickets by clicking HERE.

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