Trouble & Strife
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Trouble & Strife

Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
Band Blues


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"Here Comes Trouble"

January 13 2006
By Ashley Goodfellow

Finally. Trouble & Strife have done it at last. The Orangeville blues band is only a few short months - possibly even weeks - away from releasing it's debut CD, notably titled, Trouble & Strife.

And some would say it's been a long time coming.

But will it worth the wait?

Larry Kurtz, harmonica player and vocalist for the band since it's inception in 1997, says what he's heard so far of the final mix has blown him away.

"It's gone way beyond my expectations," he says, modest but proud. "It was time to get a recording of where we are at."

After nearly a decade or writing and performing, the band is well- rehersed for a recording.

Kurtz and guitarist Bruce Ley came together almost 10 years ago as two of the original members, and have since remained the nucleus of Trouble & Strife. Those early days, jamming in garages, also featured drummer Chris Simmonds, and guitarist Malcolm Batty. Ley, incidentally, was well-honed in piano playing and had only picked up the guitar a month before he met the crew.

"Every week he would come in to jam and he was twice as good as the week before," recalls Kurtz. "When we first started, he was a bit of a mentor for me."

"It's a different style of music [than I was used to playing]," recalls Ley. "This was just a hobby band, and the attitude you play music with is quite different, but the music is definatly more ballsy. It's tougher, it's earthy."

Fast foward nine years and the pair are still going strong. Thriving on local musical talent, the band has defined it's own brand of of evolution and frequently features a rotating roster of members and guest musicians. And it's something that has proven to work quite well for them.

"Over the years Bruce and I have played together consistantly, and lots of other musicians have played with us," says Kurtz. "We still feature some of these players from time to time, we like using different musicians for base & drums."

Ley's son Michael, a guitar player, has joined the duo for the past two years and is featured on the album as lead guitarist.

The forthcoming CD also features bassist Greg Smith and drummer Maureen Brown, but Kurtz is also quick to mention Matthew Shawn Flemming and Dan Scipione as two others that join the band on stage from time to time.

"Including local musicians,to me it's important," says Kurtz. "It's the relationships you have with people that are important."

As for the album, some might ask, why now?

"The opportunity just came up, and also, our playing style, the chemistry has come together," explains Kurtz. "All these songs on the CD, we've been playing most of them for quite a while so they are very well-developed."

Ley adds that the band has tried a handful of times to record an albumin the past - but the outcome could never live up to their expectations.

The approach to this recording, however, is much different.

"We tried to make a CD about five times and we just never got anything we were happy with," says Ley, whose career is built around playing, engineering and composing music. "But we just said 'to heck with it' and we just went in and all played live, just like a show, and that's what we did."

Most songs, he adds, were recorded on the first take.

"This one sounds good because it's live," he notes. "It's just a live-in-the- studio attitude."

Ley is in the process of mixing the CD, and expects it to be finished in the coming weeks. After that it will be sent out for manufacturing.

The CD will feature 10 original songs that have a bit of a harder blues edge, describes Kurtz, a tougher sound with a little more energy- with the exception of one song that was recorded at the request of drummer Maureen Brown, that has a bit of a jazzy , swing feel to it.

All songs are written by Ley and Kurtz, and anyone who has seen the band perform will have no trouble recognizing the tunes.

"The songs are about a lot of the same experiences people have," muses Kurtz. "Things that you go through in your life- loss, celebration, family-there are a lot of these themes."

About 1,000 copies of the disc will be manufactured, and an upcoming CD relese party is in the works. - The Orangeville Banner


TROUBLE & STRIFE Trouble & Strife

Independent Release

This release from the Trouble & Strife Band doesn't give any clues as to whether it is their first album or not. They are a 5-piece from Canada and between them, have a wealth of blues experience. Notably their female drummer Maureen Brown has been 4-times voted the Best Blues drummer in Canada! The overall impression is of a well honed band playing tightly with nobody hogging the solos or playing anything outrageous, just high quality Blues. Even better, all of the songs are originals by the band and I can imagine a crowd up and dancing very quickly, once they start to play. This is really high class stuff! I particularly liked the harp work, (Larry Kurtz) and at times it sounded like the theme from Midnight Cowboy, not the tune, the sound quality, very haunting. At times, the two guitars of Bruce Ley and Michael Ley are playing call and response, and the whole package is just great. Yes, I liked it.

Dave Stone - Blues Matters

- Blues Matters Magazine

"Just Letting The Real Blues Happen"

Trouble And Strife

Just letting the real blues happen

Jazz News by: Gary Tate

Trouble And Strife is a band of seasoned veterans that celebrates the blues, and its nucleus consists of Larry Kurtz on harmonica/vocals and Bruce Ley on guitar/piano/vocals. This self-titled effort should satisfy the most discerning blues aficionados. These guys along with one gal bring comprehensive resumes to the table, and it’s clear why so many shared stages with or opened up for some heavy duty names over the years, including Mel Brown, Lucky Peterson, and James Cotton.

The talent runs deep, and the remainder of that talent pool includes Michael Ley (Brian’s son) on guitar, and 4-times best Canadian Blues drummer in Maureen Brown, plus Greg Smith on bass. Most blues bands can’t replicate the immediacy of their live shows within a studio environment, but that’s no big deal with Trouble & Strife. You can almost visualize the bar staff hovering in the background.

So kudos to everyone---especially producer Bruce Ley---for letting the real blues happen (mainly of the Chicago variety). Perhaps the joy and freedom of living in the Orangeville countryside, some 40 miles northwest of Toronto, spelled difference. It’s more likely, however, that experience and maturity taught them that if you try to over-commercialize the blues, it only results in a diminution of the power of the message.

As for the songs, well you guessed it…they deal mainly with circumstances involving trouble and strife, with some good times thrown in to leaven the load. Two examples are Keep On Drinking and So Glad You’re Home. Ley handles leads vocals on four tracks, with Too Many Problems and I Got The Blues leaving the most lasting impressions on this listener.

Kurtz handled the balance of the vocal chores, and really stretches out admirably on Nothing Left To Take, although Hard Times On A Blue Planet is a destination worth traveling to as well. Not one false note (or sentiment) can be heard throughout Trouble & Strife, and it can be ordered at


"John's Blues Picks"

I've not made it to Orangeville yet to catch this band on their home turf. If you haven't either, get this CD. Get it anyway _ it's a good one. The band is Larry Kurtz on harp & vocals, Bruce Ley on guitar, keyboards & vocals, Michael Ley on lead guitars, Greg Smith on bass and Maureen Brown on drums. They've been performing for a while now and it shows. They've also come up with some fine original songs in the electric blues tradition. The best of these is "Hard Times on a Blue Planet", a stomping rocker that could be a single. The CD opener, the traditional "Keep On Drinking", gets a rousing performance, it should go down well at the Winchester Arms or any blues club. "Millie's Blues" is an autobiographical piece, perhaps placed second to show they can be serious as well but the rest of the songs easily dispel that notion. "Slow Down Baby" and "Dead End Blues" show what these players can do if there's a power failure _ no need to worry. is still under construction but you can contact them through it to get a CD _ do it!

- John Valenteyn - Maple Blues Magazine

"Trouble & Strife ***Mark of Distinction***"

Trouble & Strife
(Independent) <>

This hard-working, Orangeville-based band plays a polished form of blues-based pub rock that proves we all need to get out more. This is smart music played by a seasoned 5-piece who blend the working class blues and r&b of Dr. Feelgood with a tough, full sound that is distinctively their own. In fact, Bruce Ley’s gritty vocals approximate those of Lee Brilleaux to a ‘t’ while Michael Ley’s crisp’n’crunchy lead guitar and the skintight rhythm section of drummer Maureen Brown and bassist Greg Smith provide them with the rough-edged, sweaty Stones-grade muscle that puts this disc over the top. From the full assault of “Keep On Drinking” to the acoustic, intimate finale, Trouble & Strife are on to something good. Co-vocalist Larry Kurtz shines on the slower numbers where his softer, gentler voice combines with his studied adeptness on blues harp for added penetration. A full ten of eleven songs are homegrown originals, which makes this release all the more satisfying. There’s more heart here than you’d expect from first-timers but the fact that two of these journeymen have actually played together for nine years makes the timing of this release all too perfect. This is an exceptional band who deserves to be seen in their natural setting, followed by copious amounts of ice-cold beer.

Eric Thom

- Trouble & Strife ***Mark of Distinction***

"A Real Discovery!"

Review from Mlidan Loncar - RADIO KRIZEVCI 96.6 MHz/ CROATIA
Just a few days ago I recieved the new cd by an excellent blues band named Trouble & Strife from Canada. This album was self produced and distributed by the band.
With many new names in the blues scene today, it's very hard have it all, but this album is a real discovery for me. The band Trouble & Strife, from Canada... these guys are really good musicians who overwhelmed me on the first listen. They really knocked me out with their energy and their simple way of blues presentation. Today we have so many musicians who want to experiment when we talk about blues music, but not very many are good at that. We haven't had very many really good blues musicians who go deep into the roots of blues. I have so much material but only some of them overwhelm me the way this record has. I selected for this for the web site and in the radio show ''Rock - Eye'', especially in the blues part of the show.
The album Trouble & Strife is really good stuff . Right from the first listen, we have images of all the ''most important'' blues elements. Because of that, these guys have a really good - excellent album, which has so much positive energy and simple blues themes.

On album Trouble & Strife we have following songs:
1. Keep On Drinking
2. Millie’s Blues
3. Too Many Problems
4. Nothing Left To Take
5. Little Maggie
6. Slow Down Baby
7. Hard times on a Blue Planet
8. I Got The Blues
9. So Glad You’re Home
10.Better Life
11.Dead End Blues
These are my choices of my favourite songs on the record: Keep On Drinking, Millie’s Blues, Too Many Problems, Little Maggie, I Got The Blues, Better Life and the excellent instrumental theme Dead End Blues.

If you come across this album Trouble & Strife, don't hesitate a second! Buying it is the right thing to do! And if you are a fan of blues by any chance, this is the right choice for you.
Find out more on:
Mladen Loncar – Mike
- Mlidan Loncar - RADIO KRIZEVCI

"This band rocks!"


It ain't the bacon that's shakin' in Canada, it's the booties. Well, at least the ones that are listenin' to TROUBLE & STRIFE are. Man this band rocks. Once again, I find myself sitting here groovin' away as I write about another excellent blues band from Canada. I think it's actually safe to say that Canada may have more good bluesmen right now than it does hockey players. OUCH!

OK, as clever as it may be, I'll now put my wit away and tell ya all about this great disc... TROUBLE & STRIFE and this great band...TROUBLE & STRIFE.

TROUBLE & STRIFFE the band consists of: LARRY KURTZ on harmonica and lead vocals; BRUCE LEY on guitar, piano, organ and lead vocals; MICHAEL LEY on lead and slide electric and acoustic guitars and backup vocals; GREG SMITH on bass and backup vocals; MAUREEN BROWN, drums and back up vocals; and NORMA BAILEY on backup vocals.

TROUBLE & STRIFE the CD consists of eleven very well sung, well played, well performed and well produced songs, and of the eleven, ten are band originals. Allow me to now tell you about some of my personal favorites.

The opening track, "KEEP ON DRINKING", made one hell of a first impression on me and had me looking forward to more. The rhythm section is on fire with MAUREEN absolutely burning up the drums, the harp is sharp and the vocals and guitars are awesome. The groove the band was in on this one was extremely tight and it seemed that everyone was on the top of their game.

With a title like "NOTHING LEFT TO TAKE", ya gotta guess this track is nothin' but the blues, and you'd be very right. It's a good ole torch burner with excellent slow and soulful vocals, soft and sultry piano, and long and searing guitar licks. This one may be the cream of this crop. It's nearly eight minutes and every second is enjoyable.

"SLOW DOWN BABY" does exactly that. It's very soft and sassy with excellent vocal harmonizing. MICHAEL and his wonderful acoustic slide along with beautiful harp playing by LARRY highlight this one.

"HAVING HARD TIMES ON A BLUE PLANET" is another hot one. The tempos gone into high gear and the guys are rockin'. On this one, MAUREEN locks in on the drums with the harmonic background singers as the lead guitars and harmonica cut loose, and it sounds like all hell is breaking out. Ya gotta love this one.

The next track could have very easily been written by my wife. It sounds like something she tells me everyday. It's titled "I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HOME" and the lyrics go like this.........."I'm so glad you're home, I'm so glad you're home, I was blue till I met you, I'm so glad you're home. With your pretty face and your warm embrace, I'm so glad your home". It's as wonderfully sung as it was written. The swing dancers will love this one.

This excellent disc comes to a close with a less than 90 second track very similar to a Cephas & Wiggins work. It's called "DEAD END BLUES". It's a slow acoustic number with great acoustic pickin' by MICHAEL, backed up by some superb harp by LARRY.

Our neighbors to the north are apparently doing a fine job of representing this genre. We are very pleased to add TROUBLE & STRIFE to the long list of very good Canadian Blues Bands we have reviewed here at

"The Blues is my PASSION & THERAPY"
Pete the Blewzzman

- Peter "Blewsman" Lauro


May 2006. TROUBLE & STRIFE Our Self Titled Debut CD! Airplay on over 175 radio stations worldwide.


2007 Maple Blues Awards Nominees for "Best New Artist"

2006 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search Finalists

Grab Trouble & Strife's self titled CD as it is one of the top Blues releases in this country, this continent, this year! If ya don't agree, I'll personally refund your money!

Eddy B -

"You guys have all my 4 thumbs up !!
& DAMN ! I don't have any more thumbs!!" Dj Krunodlak, VFM radio

"A Rousing Performance!' John Valenteyn - Maple Blues Magazine

"Rough-edged, sweaty Stones-grade muscle that puts this disc over the top!" - Eric Thom - Exclaim! Magazine

Had me reaching for the bourbon half way through the first track! Bill Dewdney Coast Fm 963

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Trouble & Strife are a band who make no excuses for playing only the blues. Bruce & Larry have been playing their brand of soulful low down, take your time blues together for over twelve years. Bruce's son Michael Ley is an exciting young guitarist who really gets what the blues are all about. Add in one of Canada's best Blues drummers, Mike Fitzpatrick, and the highly talented Greg Smith on Bass and you have a poupouri of blues talent! Bruce & Larry both make their homes in the beautifull hills surrounding Orangeville Ontario. It really comes out in their sound, the joy of the natural countryside resonates back to where the blues began in humble rural locations. They have played some great festivals and clubs and really make a connection with their audience.
The band was formed in 1997 by a group of like minded blues lovers who had diverse musical backgrounds. Playing for the sheer love of the blues, they played the songs of their heroes Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy, Lightning Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon. Original members were Malcolm Batty on Guitar, Wayne Stewart on Bass, Chris Simmonds on Drums, Bruce Ley on Vocals & Guitar and Larry Kurtz on Vocals and Harmonica. Over the years, some great band members have come and gone. Trouble & Strife has remained very earthy and ballsy sounding all the way through, playing their own take on the blues and creating something unique.Trouble & Strife has played festivals, clubs, pubs, coffee shops, and private events throughout Ontario and Quebec. Trouble & Strife have had the privilege to play onstage with or open for James Cotton, Lucky Peterson, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Stroger, Downchild Blues Band, Jack DeKeyzer, Fathead, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Jeff Healy's Blues Band, Mel Brown, Garrett Mason, Paul James and many more!