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 www.troubleandstrife.ca.