Portales’ Will Banister, a rising county music performer, sings the opening song in “Cry Macho,” Clint Eastwood’s latest movie in which Eastwood acted and directed.
The movie debuted on Sept. 17, and since then, Banister’s performance of the song, “Find a New Home,” has received 29,000 views on two YouTube videos.
In the meantime, Banister and his band got a trip to Carmel, Calif., to meet Eastwood and perform at Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club in the Big Sur hills near the Pacific Ocean.
The opportunity began in mid-August when Banister, 33, picked up what he expected to be a robocall from a California area code. It was Marlon Espino, a film score composer inquiring about Banister’s willingness to provide a song for a movie. There was no mention of Eastwood.
“If the director likes it,” Espino told Banister, “he’ll use it in his movie.”
“I said, ‘Sure,’ thinking it was an indie (independent) film,” Banister said.
It turned out Banister and Espino had a mutual friend – one of Banister’s college roommates at Texas Tech University. Espino had called the friend seeking a “Merle Haggard-type singer” for help to fill out the soundtrack, and Banister fit the bill.
Espino sent Banister words, music and a background track for the song, which was written by Mark Mancina, the film’s music collaborator.
“The song was easy,” Banister said. He recorded a smooth, rich baritone vocal track against the provided background, and sent it to Espino. Banister got a call back, where Espino finally revealed the director and added, “Clint loved it.”
Espino also said Banister would be invited to Carmel to meet Eastwood and “record the song proper” in a professional studio. That recording took place, but Eastwood decided he liked the Portales recording better and used that instead.
Eastwood, 91, is acclaimed both as a director and actor, but Espino and Mancina are film music heavyweights.
Espino recently scored “Inheritance,” a 2020 suspense thriller that is streaming on Netflix.
Mancina’s credits go back to the 1990s, when his music was heard in movies that include “Speed,” “Bad Boys,” and “Twister.” Mancina also wrote music for the television series “Criminal Minds.”
Espino and Mancina share credit for “Cry Macho,” but also for 2016’s “Moana” and the stage production of “The Lion King.”
Banister is becoming more of a music heavyweight himself.
“I keep getting busier and busier,” he said.
On Thursday, he left Portales to perform with his band of Lubbock musicians at College Station, Texas, and then on to Kenney, Texas, before heading back to New Mexico for performances at Ruidoso Downs, according to Banister’s website, willbanister.com .
In recent years, Banister’s covers of George Strait’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin'” have gotten 5 million combined views on YouTube. His last two albums, he said, have been all songs he wrote himself.
“I can now do a 90-minute original show,” he said.
A music career “is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he said, “and I have been able to do that.”
Banister said he still spends about half of his time at home in Portales with his wife Tessa and four children from 2 to 9 years old.