For over three generations, the Elder family has been making beautiful music in Smiley, Texas. Last Friday evening, a third-generation member of that musical clan made family history by being featured in the filming of a country music video.
Twenty five-year old David Marshall Elder of Smiley was the star of the music video. He spent Friday night in the fields surrounding his home in Smiley joined by local musicians David Wallace, D.J. Richter and Coby Smith to perform his country song Dark So Bright. On Friday evening, as the video camera rolled tape around 8 p.m., the young man from Smiley made a professional video that is going to be featured in the premier episode of a new country music program in Houston, Texas.
For David, not only was it a dream come true, but also the culmination of a lifetime of a love of music.
“I’ve been playing professionally for about 15 years now,” Elder said on Friday afternoon in his recording studio in Smiley. “My grandfather played for about 40 years with Deep Water, Whiskey River and the Mavericks and I remember some of that.
“My dad played too, and it was watching him play with The System in Seguin that I knew I was taken with music. I was seven-years-old, but I knew what I wanted to do because of my dad and my grandfather.”
Elder started playing the drums but fell in love with the six-string and has been playing the guitar ever since. In 2013, he wrote his first song called Dance Hall of the Damned. He laughed when he mentioned the name of the song but was earnest and sincere when he explained the song’s meaning.
“It’s about three generations of family performing music and loving what they do,” he said. “But it’s also about the work that comes with performing that can wear a musician out until they get into their own environment on stage and perform their music. Our family played a lot of dance halls, and we love it. But sometimes it is hard to get motivated.”
After writing his first song, Elder kept writing his own material. He has built his own recording studio, and has all the songs he has ever written, produced and recorded saved there. On many of these songs, he has played all the instruments and sang all the vocals.
At 25, Elder is no novice to the upper levels of country music. A number of years ago, he moved to Nashville and played with a number of different bands and at a number of different venues. He hooked up with Riley Green, and they traveled all over the country and out of the United States performing big shows.
“I learned a lot from that experience, and it was a huge moment in my life,” Elder said. “Just getting to see the different scenery, the different cultures in the States and different people was really an eye-opening experience for me.
“Going to Mardi Gras, experiencing the Roll Tide phenomena in Alabama—it was a great experience.”
Eventually, Elder wanted to come home to write and produce his own music where his roots were. While doing gigs around Texas, he met a man named Russell Reed, a professional filmographer out of San Marcos who has produced top level country music videos for Austin City Limits and other artists.
Elder talked to Reed months ago, and Reed convinced him he should do a new video. In the meantime, KVQT television out of Houston decided they were going to create a new program featuring country music in the state of Texas. The two sides came together, and it was agreed that on the pilot episode of the new program, they would feature Elder’s new video which could be seen by more than 2.5 million viewers.
“It is very exciting,” Elder conceded, “but it is also a natural progression. I wanted to put my hometown of Smiley back on the map because I am proud of who I am and where I came from. That’s why we’re making the video in the fields of Smiley. I hope whatever comes out of this takes it to wherever it was meant to go. I’m happy I’m getting my chance at self-expression, storytelling and making a music video with all of my best friends.”
Elder said the song Dark So Bright is a story about someone committing time and effort to a relationship because the effort and time is worth pursuing the relationship. He said after the filming is completed, in a month or two the video should be ready to go for the premier of the pilot episode in Houston.”
“I promise we’ll send you a copy of the video when it’s done,” Elder said to the Inquirer. “We’re going to debut it in Houston, put up on our channels and on You Tube, and we’ll go from there.”
Editor's Note: The music video Dark So Bright is out now. You can either click here or just watch it below.