Having first made inroads with his debut album Turned Her On To Country, newcomer Will Banister ensured his UK debut a performance that would not soon be forgotten.
Appearing at the International Festival Country of Music at London’s Wembley Arena, February 26, the Clovis, New Mexico based singer/songwriter presented a six song set that brought the crowd to its feet and ensured that he would not leave the stage without an encore.
Banister kicked off the set with the title track from his album, then continued with other original songs alongside classics Lovesick Blues and White Lightnin’, his powerful vocals accompanied by the solid work of his six member Mulberry Band clearly showing that he was nothing but 100% genuine hardcore country. He encored with another original, Never Been Any Other Way.
With the Wembley crowd still eager for more, Will Banister returned to the stage later in the evening, to be interviewed by m.c. David Allan and, accompanying himself on guitar, sang short segments of songs that had influenced him.
Then, off stage, he was kept busy at the booth, signing autographs for almost five hours and sold a staggering 400 cds – “way beyond our expectations” explained record producer and band member Johnny Mulhair (who previously produced LeAnn Rimes chart debut single Blue).
“Playing in London at Wembley Arena was a dream come true” said Banister. “It was such a pleasure to meet so many fans of traditional country music from the UK. Everyone treated me so nice I can’t wait to come back.”
Will Banister first gained attention when his Turned Her On To Country album gathered a rave review in the consumer monthly Country Music People, leading on to building business with the import dealers. Next the song Turned Her On To Country enjoyed a four week stay at number one in the UK’s weekly Hot Disc charts, ensuring the singer a radio audience way beyond British shores.
The Wembley visitor not only proved a winner with the country audience but also gained attention of the national media, with the Daily Telegraph’s Douglas McPherson concluding his Wembley review: “The most memorable moment [of the festival] found 23 year old Will Banister wowing the crowd with a sublimely straightforward Lovesick Blues. Sixty-three years after Hank Williams sang the same song, it was proof that country, like rock ‘n’ roll, will never die.”
Will Banister now follows in the footsteps of Dolly Parton, Don Williams and Boxcar Willie, all of whom launched their successful British careers after similar rapturous festival debuts.
The Mulberry Band features Johnny and Jill Mulhair, Paul Goad and Duane Castleberry. Johnny Mulhair co-produced one of the biggest hit CD's in the history of country music (LeAnn Rimes "Blue") He was also noted as top 10 guitarist in Nashville's "Music Row" magazine in 1997, and has been amazing fans with his talents for years. Jill Mulhair, is a top-notch vocalist, who is often compared to Emmylou Harris. She offers both strong lead and harmony vocals to the band, and keeps a strong steady rhythm on bass. Paul Goad, featured on keyboards, is a megai-talented musician that has been playing throughout the TX and NM for many years. And completing the group, Duane Castleberry lends great lead and harmony vocals to the group, and is one of the areas finest drummers.