True Story Melds Music With Spoken Word 

One night in 2012, Eric Valentine was hanging out with his friend Anderson Mitchell. After Mitchell had played a couple of his songs and Valentine had read a couple of his short stories, the two men discussed how their work shared certain themes.

Then Mitchell grabbed his guitar and told Valentine to read one of his stories again.

"And so I started reading, and he started strumming," Valentine said. "And we looked at each other and we thought, 'You know what? We're onto something.'"

The Idaho Songwriters Association agreed. Valentine and Mitchell received a standing ovation when they performed with vocalist Tehya Fencik at one of the organization's forums in November of that year.

Now featuring a seven-person lineup, Mitchell and Valentine's project, True Story, will headline an ISA concert at the Riverside Hotel's Sapphire Room on Friday, Aug. 23.

When the two men became friends in 2011, Mitchell knew that Valentine had done some writing and editing, "but he didn't really see me as someone who wrote anything literary," Valentine said.

In fact, Valentine had worked for newspapers in California and written jokes for Saturday Night Live in the early '90s, informing True Story's ruminative, humorous pieces.

Described as "theatrical folk," "storytelling blues" and "musical literature," True Story's material wouldn't fare well amid the chatter of a busy night downtown. The videos for "Fuji" and "Choose Life"--on the band's website, 6 minutes and 7 minutes long, respectively. They mix sung passages with nonfiction narratives that require active listening.

"We really need a captive audience," Valentine said. "We can't really be background music. Otherwise, it's like, 'Why's this guy talking so much?'"

The unique demands that the pieces make on an audience, as well as the logistics of a seven-person lineup, limit the times and places True Story can perform--typically only one or two shows a month.

Consequently, the Aug. 23 show may be one of the few times when people can see True Story before wintertime, which Valentine hopes to devote to recording.

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