By ANA CRISTINA ESPIN
At the Underground, students buy refreshments and often zip in and out like bees, but on Open Mic nights, many hover under a canopy of soothing music.
This Tuesday was no exception.
Truman, the soul country and pop brother duo from Nashville, took to the stage with their guitars and keyboard and had audience members at the University of Mary Washington buzzing.
With their smooth vocals, upbeat tempo and wholesome good looks, the singer-songwriters halted traffic.
Freshmen Sarah LeRoyer and Samantha Catron, both psychology majors, and Julia Leffray, an international relations major, had all met for dinner, and said the music compelled them to stay longer.
Once Truman began singing Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning,” LeRoyer knew she was hooked.
“A piece of my heart broke off into [that] song,” said LeRoyer.
“[Their concert] was just an unexpected, pleasant surprise,” said Catron, her comments punctuated by giggles. “And, yeah, they’re easy on the eyes.”
Benjamin Truman, 28, and his brother Chad, 25, began collaborating musically seven years ago while attending college in Utah. It was here that Ben first picked up the guitar.
Chad, meanwhile, started playing guitar when he was 15 and has played piano since he was nine.
Ben and Chad’s chemistry as partners was instant. Gradually, the brothers watched their popularity grow as they continued to play local parties and functions.
A turning point came when their group won their university’s Battle of the Bands, a distinction Truman achieved for two consecutive years that helped capture producers’ attention.
The brothers have never been strangers to music. Their father is Dan Truman, the keyboardist of the hit country band Diamond Rio.
Having a dad in this position has provided both brothers valuable insight and access to excellent connections.
However, Ben and Chad emphasized that the burden to create a quality album rests with them.
“It’s now on us to do our job,” said Ben.
“We’ve just got to make sure our music is really good because the connections are kind of, almost, waiting for us,” said Chad.
As both artists discussed stylistic goals, they cited influences like John Mayer and early Maroon 5, as well as a deep appreciation for Jazz and 70s music, including the bands Bread and Ambrosia.
These roots speak to Truman’s pursuit of music they describe as “soul country.”
“We want to write songs that people [can relate to] in a universal way,” said Ben.
“[But] that have the sincerity of country,” added Chad.
“That’s what’s unique about country music,” Ben continued. “The lyric isn’t complicated, but the actual subject matter can be.”
That said, however, many of Truman’s songs, though they tend to center on longing and romance, are described generally as both “fun” and “positive.”
“We’re not too angry,” Chad joked. “We’re trying to hone in on soul country … but we have [elements] of jazz [too]. We want to be fresh and be ourselves.”
Eunice Achiaa, a junior and sociology major, delighted in Truman’s style, saying aspects reminded her of Hunter Hayes’ sound.
“I’m a very big fan of country music,” said Achiaa. “[Their music] was a really nice combination of country and pop. They both [performed] so well together.”
The Truman brothers have completed 100 college gigs in the past 36 months. Their next stop is Cleveland. From there both brothers will head back to Nashville to be with their wives and join producers to work on a new album.
Their ultimate goal?
“A record label,” said Ben.
“It’s all still bubbling now,” said Chad,” but hopefully something happens.”