By Kate Matthews
On a clear October evening, Eric Valentine and Anderson Mitchell debuted their freshly conceived-of project, True Story, to an intimate gathering of friends around a small backyard fire in Boise’s North End. The duo had just two pieces, but that was all it took.
The first piece, collectively known as “Fuji,” is Valentine’s true story, “Talking to a Rock,” in which he makes peace with a lava rock taken while ascending Japan’s iconic mountain on a full-mooned night and the karma attached to it. The second, “Beautiful,” is Valentine’s own story of love and loss; a story so personal that only he should tell it.
Underscoring both pieces is Mitchell’s own musical narrative. “Don’t Look Down,” sets the pace for Valentine’s journey in “Fuji,” just as “Sing” plays the heartstrings of “Beautiful.” With both pieces perfectly positioned to interweave lyrical insight and instrumental harmonics into Valentine’s prose, you would never suspect that each respective piece wasn’t originally written to compliment the other.
Since that October night, Valentine and Mitchell have exploded onto Boise’s music scene. Within the first month of their inception tentative tracks had been laid and True Story had made their public debut at the Idaho Songwriters Association’s Weekly Forum at the Owyhee Plaza’s Gamekeeper Lounge. Their reception from the ISA was overwhelming in its enthusiasm for the project.
“It was as if the world stopped,” Valentine says of that first night at the ISA forum. “The silence in the room was palpable and then suddenly the audience sprang to their feet and burst into applause.”
By then, Valentine and Mitchell had brought in vocalist Tehya Fencik to join them on stage and in the studio. More recently, True Story has also added Abigail Sykes and Kathleen Clark as vocal harmonic backup, as well as harpist Kat Sherwood and cellist Stephanie L’Hereux. But, even as the group expands, True Story remains the stories of Eric Valentine and the music of Anderson Mitchell.
As True Story’s repertoire grows, so does their following. In just seven months
Valentine and Mitchell have composed no less than seven new pieces and have performed their works everywhere from privately hosted house parties and The Crux to Radio Boise and Story Story Night.
Both Valentine and Mitchell contribute much of True Story’s success to the support and encouragement of Rich O’Hara and the Idaho Songwriter’s Association. “True Story would just be an idea in a living room without the ISA and their support,” says Valentine. Mitchell agrees, but expands on the idea by adding that the ISA has been instrumental in “crowd-sourcing the community to bring this project to life.” Which, he feels, is something unique to the ISA and the Boise community.
When asked what’s next for True Story, Valentine replies, “Everything’s on the table.” And indeed, it seems to be.
The group will be performing at Modern Art in room #116 on May 2, as well as at The Boise Co-Op’s First Friday event on June 7, and again at the 40th Anniversary Block Party June 22. True Story will also be performing at Meridian Summer Arts Festival June 29 and 30, as well as at the ISA’s Headliner Series at the Sapphire Room later this summer.
To learn more about True Story and the men behind the magic, visit their website at www.truestory-band.com. The website features video of live performances, an updated calendar of events and information on booking the act for performances across the valley and beyond. True Story can also be found on Facebook under ‘True Story Project’.