top of page

Off the Charts: Brandon Elder

Bud Gambrell

Jul 11, 2024

Strumming Through Struggles to Stardom

Welcome back to Off the Charts. I’m so glad you’re here! I have not had an article out in a couple of weeks because I took some time to rest and clear my mind. For the most part, I took June off from writing and photography. Everyone needs a break, even me!

When I began this column, I jotted down some names of people or bands I would like to introduce you to. The name Brandon Elder was on that list!

I was first introduced to Brandon’s music in March of 2024 when I had an assignment to shoot the Conference USA basketball Championship. The Von Braun Center hosted three nights of local entertainment as part of the celebration, and Brandon happened to be playing the Friday Night show.

I had heard the name Brandon Elder while researching my book on Side Tracks Music Hall. Of course, now I wish I had seen him perform at Side Tracks. After hearing him for the first time in March, though, I became a quick fan.

I didn’t get a chance to meet Brandon face-to-face at the concert in March, but we did chat via messenger on Facebook, where I messaged him a couple of the pictures I took that night.

For this interview, I met Brandon at Big Spring International Park in downtown Huntsville. We sat and talked about him and his musical journey. I now know him better, and soon, I think you will, too!

My first question, of course, was to dig deeper into who Brandon Elder is, so read on below.

Brandon Elder for Mixed Alternative Magazine
Credit: Bud Gambrell


OTC: For those who may not be familiar with you, tell me a little bit about Brandon Elder.

BE: I’m 29 years old and from Union Grove, Alabama. I started playing music about 7-8 years ago and just started writing and working on songs, and it just went from there. Then, I just started making a career out of it. I love playing music! I love all my fans and am excited for the Alabama Smoke Show coming up here on July 26th.



OTC: I saw that you were a contestant on American Idol. Tell me a little about that experience.

BE: So, American Idol was cool! It was my first time on an airplane in LA, so all the firsts were fun! The TV part was a little weird, but I had a good time with it. You know, I’ll go back tomorrow! American Idol was awesome!



OTC: I watched the video of your audition in 2018. You played an original song called Gone. At the end of the song, the judges compliment you pretty much. What did that feel like?

BE: It was excellent! It was nice for multiple reasons. It was the second song I've ever written. I had been playing guitar for maybe a year, so it was nice to get those compliments early on in my career, especially those they gave me about my songwriting. I think that's one of the reasons why I will probably continue to write as much as I do. Getting compliments from people like that makes you want to work even harder for it. 

OTC: One of the judges was Alabama native Lionel Ritchie. When he compliments you, this has to build your confidence slightly. Tell me how that felt.

BE: For sure! And it's incredibly cool coming from him since he is from Alabama. I also cover about three or four of his songs in my set. I've always been a big fan of Lionel. So, it was cool! It was nice to get their compliments and be in the same room with them for a little while.



OTC: There are several ways that you perform your songs. It can be a solo acoustic, or it could be a full band. What is your favorite way to present your original songs?

BE: I mean, I like playing with the band. I like it with the acoustic guitar, and I do a lot of shows with my fiddle player. Most of the time, my favorite way to perform my original songs would probably be like me, with another guitar player being more acoustic. I would say it's probably my favorite because most of the stuff I write is not party songs. It's hard for me to write those, which I have some, but it's hard to write the drink-a-beer song or the party songs. A lot of times, when I'm writing, it's a little deeper. It’s deeper than just the beer song or the whiskey song. But most of the time, it's just me and an acoustic guitar—either me and a guitar player or a fiddle player.

Brandon Elder for Mixed Alternative Magazine
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: Being a songwriter, where are you hoping your songwriting takes you? What's your next step?

BE: The next step is to continue putting pen to pad. I would say keep doing what I'm doing and see where it goes. You know, doors open, and you hop through when they open and see where it goes. That's all you can do.

OTC: Tonight, as a songwriter, you sit down to write a song with anybody you could pick; who would you write that song with and why?

BE: Oh boy! That’s a tough one! Chris Stapleton would be up there for sure. Drake White, an Alabama boy. Jamey Johnson, another Alabama player. I guess the reason I think I gravitate most to those guys is because a lot of the stuff that they write is about a little bit of everything. But most of the things they write are not just about the party stuff. It's more about real-life things, and it just seems more heartfelt. So, I feel like all three guys aren't trying to write for the radio. They write what they want, and if people like it, cool. And if they don't cool.

Brandon Elder for Mixed Alternative Magazine
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: You’re a local musician, and you’ve gotten to play onstage at the VBC Mars Music Hall. How does it feel to be playing on the big stage?

BE: Yeah, it's always fun to get on big stages like Mars because of multiple reasons. It's just a change of scene for one. And then, often, when you're opening for more significant acts, your set is condensed. Some people may think that's a bad thing, but I look at it like, OK, I have 45 minutes to give it the best I've got. You know, I get to get up and sing my songs for 45 minutes and maybe sprinkle a cover or two in there, but I'm not just singing other people's songs all night. So it's nice! It allows you to showcase what it is, who you are, and what you want to do as an artist. It also gives you a chance to let the people in the crowd get to know who you are, not just as an artist but also as a person. 

Brandon Elder for Mixed Alternative Magazine
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: On July 26th, you once again get to get up onstage at Mars Music Hall. This will be a part of a local showcase. Are you looking forward to that? How do you feel about that show?

BE: Yeah, it's going to be great! I know everybody on the ticket so that it will be great fun! All of us are never together at the same time, so it's going to be fun to get up there and have a good time with all the guys who are trying to do the same thing I'm trying to do and make a show out of it and get some people there and have some fun.

OTC: There will be a lot of local talent on that stage. Does that give you some extra motivation to get up there and show out and do your best?

BE: Absolutely! I guess it gives me some extra motivation, but at the same time, I give my best all the time. I don't want to say it will be just another night. It's not going to be just another night, but at the same time, I give it my best, no matter if I'm playing at Mars Music Hall or Moe’s. I will go up there and do my thing anyway, no matter what.

Brandon Elder for Mixed Alternative Magazine
Credit: Bud Gambrell

OTC: Is there anything you want to say to a prospective new fan reading this right now?

BE: With me, you get what you get. I hope that everybody likes what they hear. Ultimately, I'm not trying to change for anybody, and I hope to see you at the show I am putting on soon.

OTC: Where can we find your music?

BE: You can find it on Spotify and Apple Music. I think it's on like 50-something streaming platforms. It's in the works to get in the studio in the next month or so and start putting out some of the stuff I've been working on to the public. We will try to get in there and get some new music out for people because I haven't put anything out in a little while, but just because I haven't put anything out doesn't mean I haven't been working. We will try to get some new stuff out for the fans and see where that goes, though.

Brandon Elder for Mixed Alternative Magazine
Credit: Bud Gambrell


I enjoyed talking with Brandon. We could have sat there and talked for who knows how long. But we had to go. Brandon had a rehearsal for an upcoming gig, and I had to get home and start writing this article for you.

If you are in Huntsville, I highly recommend attending the Alabama Smoke Show on Friday, July 26th, at Mars Music Hall. Brandon will perform his songs along with several other local bands. It will not be a night to be missed!

I hope you enjoyed this latest article for Off the Charts. I have a couple more interviews in the works, so be on the lookout for those. For now, please email me and let me know your thoughts. Feel free to tell me what you liked or disliked. Tell me about any bands you know and love and think others will.

Until next time,

Keep your diamond in the groove!

Where to find Bud: 





To learn more about Brandon Elder:




Apple Music:


*cover photo by Bud Gambrell

Questions or comments? Reach out to

bottom of page