Fortunately, this occurs a few times every year - in a restaurant of choice, you encounter intriguing live music or an interesting piece of music played back over the installed speaker system. The latter happened to us some time ago in Dublin/Ireland. In an alley off Grafton Street just around the corner from the tart with the cart -- the statue of Molly Malone -- we were having lunch at Tosca's.
Doing business in Ireland and especially in Dublin is very pleasant. There's friendly people, a love of good food, drinks and, best of all, music - everywhere. So here we are at Tosca's, our business successfully concluded to feel deservant of a good lunch. Still engaged with the appetizers, we then suddenly put down our knife and fork, both at the same time and as though struck by lightning. A new tune escapes the various strategically hidden restaurant loudspeakers. The song is instantly addictive, keeping us glued to its rhythm and passionate singing. The lyrics are in Gaelic, that's obvious - but who is singing? One of the waiters observes us listening and puts the CD jewel box on our table. Kila: Tóg È Go Bog È is what it reads. The attentive server adds, "Oh, they're great. If you want, you can join us in a concert of Kila tonight. More than 2000 drunk Irish going crazy - imagine that!" We can - imagine it. After lunch, our first stop is at the Grafton Street HMV store to pick up a copy of Tóg È Go Bog È.
The brothers Ó Snodaigh, singer/percussionist Rónán, multi-instrumentalist Rossa and flautist Colm formed the Kila band in 1987. And yes, this Rónán is known from his feral performances with Dead Can Dance. Dee Armstrong joined the group with his fiddle later. At first, they simply played the streets of Dublin. This "busking" is one of the main attractions in Dublin. Slowly more European cities catch up to the realization that busking -- by of course talented musicians and other street performers -- adds immeasurably to inner-city atmospheres. In Dublin, it is not an exception to encounter someone reciting chapter and verse from Ulysses even after a few liters of the black Guinness stuff.
Tóg È Go Bog È | Take It Easy is Kila's second album. A bassist, drummer and guitarist and certain guests enhance the core lineup to have an almost ideal mixture of Celtic, Middle-European and African influences radiate from their polycarbonate. For those who like to know what the Gaelic songs are about, the inlay is of no use - it's in Gaelic, too. Kila's music is not at all like most Irish bands who lean on The Dubliners, Riverdance of even Catho-Irishness. Kila is very different yet Irish all the same. Magically, singer Rónán's big raspy voice combines the lyrics of "Ón Taobh Tuathail Amach with the accompanying sax, accordion, drums, clarinet, sax and even Llama toenails.
Kila has clearly developed into a band of gifted multi-instrumentalists. Ancient instruments like Uilleann pipes and hammered dulcimer combine with a flute for the instrumental ingredients of "Oh, To Kiss Katie". The title song "Tóg È Go Bog È" sports one of those insidious melodic phrases the Germans call Ohrwurm or earworm - it burrows into your head and keeps playing itself over and over again long after the actual music has stopped. Congas, djembe and other various drums anchor the strong rhythm.
"Crann Na bPingini" is another instrumental. This ballad makes you long for the green glens of Ireland, bottle of real Irish whiskey (with an "e"!) within easy reach. The only English song is "Tip Toe" and sheds light on what the Gaelic songs might be all about: "There will always be wolves among the sheep but what's left on the earth will be ploughed by the meek". Ronan's powerful voice then carries "Bi Ann" to an unaccompanied acapella summit and the CD is over before you know it.
Kila is that rare bird in the musical landscape who go their own way in producing and releasing their CDs in an example of how talent begets talent. Their album captures to perfection that real down-to-earth, full-throttle "we love music" edge of rawness. It mixes tradition, local culture and foreign elements into such a rich tapestry as to be captivating from beginning to end - just like the first time we heard one of its songs in that Dublin eatery. Part of this undying appeal is the wide variety of instruments used. They render each song uniquely different from ever other to make Tóg È Go Bog È one of our favorite all-time albums!