Billy Hill and the Hillbillies
|Billy Hill and the Hillbillies|
Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon around 1999.
|Past members||Mario Hidalgo
Billy Hill and the Hillbillies is a musical/variety group that performed at Disneyland in Anaheim, California for 21 years. The group left Disney in January 2014, changing their group name to "Kirk Wall and the Hillbillies". The group's new venue is Knott's Berry Farm, a themepark. The group performs a bluegrass country-music-centered show along with classic rock and rap (performed in a country and bluegrass style). They have released some of their music on CDs.
The group had four original members, all using the stage name of Billy Hill, who performed from August 5, 1992 until November 1994. The original members are:
- Kirk Wall (master of ceremonies and sometime-Elvis impersonator), guitar and fiddle
- Mario Hildago, banjo
- Dennis Fetchet, fiddle
- John Marshall (founder), bass
Billy Hill and the Hillbillies plays music from all genres in a folk/bluegrass style while interacting with audiences. The roster consists of a regular rotation of 10 to 12 musicians, with Wall generally serving as the lead singer while playing fiddle and guitar.
Wall, who got his start in show business as a comedian, said he geared his jokes to adults in the crowd more than the children. "The kids might not get the jokes," Wall said, "but they at least get a kick out of seeing their mom and dad crack up." A sometime Elvis impersonator, Wall noted that Disney did not prohibit him, or any other Disney musician, from pursuing side projects. One such show took place in Buffalo, New York in 1997 as part of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's TGIF series. According to Mary Kunz of Buffalo News, the group performed classical pieces together with the orchestra which "proved how much bluegrass and classical music have in common". After intermission, Hill and the Hillbillies re-emerged dressed in overalls, "like some kind of Appalachian Marx Brothers", and performed another hour of country standards including "Hey Good Lookin'", "Tennessee Waltz", and "Orange Blossom Special".
Prior to February 3, 2009, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies were performing 7 days a week inside the Golden Horseshoe Saloon as three different teams: 
On November 6, 2013, a press release on the Disney Parks official blog announced that Billy Hill and the Hillbillies would retire as of January 6, 2014, ending a run of 21 consecutive years performing in Frontierland. A group called "Save The Billys" started a petition and Facebook event in an attempt to persuade Disney to change its mind on retiring the show.
In late 2013 the "Blue Team" consisting of Kirk Wall, Anders Swanson, Dennis Fetchet, and Rick Storey, started their own group named "Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies". The show is planned to have the same music, comedy style, and members of Disneyland's Billy Hill & The Hillbillies but performing outside of Disneyland in both public and private events. The first performance for this group was on New Year's Eve 12/31/2013 at Knott's Berry Farm.
(Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
- Critter Country from 1986 until 1990: The original home of Billy and the Hillbillies.
- Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon from 1992 to June 17, 2012. (scheduled)
- Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch: 1999-2000 while the Golden Horseshoe was occupied by the Woody's Roundup show based on Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 2.
- Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch: June 18, 2012 to January 6, 2014: The last home of the act. (scheduled)
- Knott's Berry Farm: Now known as "Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies"
- Disneyland Live press release, Billy Hill and the Hillbillies Find A New Home at Knott's Berry Farm
- Montero, David (January 6, 2014). "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies end Disney run". Orange County Register. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
- "Disneyland Musicians: Enter a Place Where Music-And Youth-Are Contagious". International Musician 110 (9): 18. September 2012. ISSN 0020-8051.
- Kunz, Mary (November 8, 1997). "Bluegrass and the Classics Share a Good-Humored Stage". Buffalo News. Retrieved September 9, 2014. (subscription required (. ))
- Lam, Charles (November 26, 2013). "Fans Fight to Keep Disneyland's "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies" Show Alive; Mouse Doesn't Care". OC Weekly. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
- "Popular Disneyland Bluegrass Band To Play Last Fiddle At Theme Park". CBS Local Media. January 6, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
- "Official Website of Kirk Wall". Retrieved 2008-06-03.
- "Official Website of The Billys". Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- "History of the Golden Horseshoe: Billy Hill & the Hillbillies". Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- "Billy Hill fan site". Retrieved 2006-02-27.
- "Jan's World's Billy Hill Website". Retrieved 2006-12-17.
- "Disney Parks Blog". Retrieved 2013-11-06.