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THE HISTORY OF KRAZY KIRK and the HILLBILLIES

As most stories go... Once Upon A Time!

Many years ago, we started out as brothers from the mountains of Santa Monica who enjoyed playing and singing together. Originally, we worked at a local theme park run by a famous mouse where we were called Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. When our show went to seven days a week, they hired more brothers and our team (the BLUE TEAM) changed the name to The Billys for our shows at other venues. After 26+ years working for the Mouse, our show was "retired" and we became Kirk Wall and the Hillbillies. Now we're at Knott's Berry Farm and have added the name to Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. 

OUR HILLBILLY HISTORY

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We began performing in Critter Country in the late 1980's in various different bands, but we got our real start during Disneyland's State Fair event in Spring of 1988. At the time, we performed as the "Barley Boys" in the Big Thunder Ranch area.

Our job was to help entertain the crowd and encourage the pigs to run their fastest. Each Barley Brother [Marley, Farley, Charley, etc] would take one of four sections of the audience and teach them a pig "call" to encourage that pig during the race.

 Pigmania with the Barley Boys. Kirk is in the red shirt above.
Circa 1988

Kirk Wall as a "Barley Boy"  during Pigmania at State Fair at Disneyland.

 Here is an example of the Pig Race from YouTube.com, Click this....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylH5DxibEFk 

"Pigmania" ended in October, 1988, we were asked to perform for the opening day crowds in Critter Country which opened on Wednesday, November 23, 1988.

Splash Mountain was to have opened during this time, but due to technical difficulties it wasn't ready. So we worked longer than we expected [which was a good thing for us]. We continued to perform for the newly built attraction, Splash Mountain which finally opened 8 months later on Monday, July 17, 1989.

The original members of the band in those days were Kirk Wall on guitar, Dennis Fetchet on fiddle, John Marshall on bass and Mario Hildalgo on banjo. Kirk acted as our front man. 

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 Early Billy Hill and the Hillbillies near Splash Mountain. This photo to the left shows Tom Sauber on fiddle. 

Early Billy Hill  & the Hillbillies [originally known  as the Spit Band, we won't go into details!]


On Wednesday, August 5, 1992 Billy Hill and the Hillbillies were moved to Frontierland. 

We were later moved to Frontierland and played outside the Golden Horseshoe; occasionally filling in when the Golden Horseshoe Jamboree Show was dark. [closed] 


[photo on the right from top to bottom: back row... John Marshall (bass); middle row... Kirk Wall (guitar)and Mario Hildalgo (banjo); bottom row... Dennis Fetchet (fiddle and mnadolin)

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THE ORIGINAL BILLY HILL TEAM ~ circa 1994

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We were asked to replace a show that was closing. The Golden Horseshoe Jamboree Show was closed.

On Sunday, December 18, 1994, we performed our first official "scripted" show in the Golden Horseshoe Saloon as the resident band. Sadly, Mario had left us and was replaced by John's brother, Evan Marshall on mandolin. 

Evan brought classical mandolin experience that added a new dimension to our show.

[left to right: Kirk Wall, Dennis Fetchet, John Marshall and his brother, Evan Marshall] 

A NEW LOCATION

 Five years later, on Sunday, November 21, 1999 , we were temporarily moved out of the Golden Horseshoe Saloon for the opening of Woody's Round-up Show, but Woody didn't last and we returned to the Golden Horseshoe on Thursday, July 20, 2000 after an 8 month absence.  


Four fiddlers from left to right: Evan Marshall, Dennis Fetchet, Kirk Wall and John Marshall.

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BACK IN THE 'SHOE

 By now, we had quite a following including a fan club called "Da Billy Club" or DBC (started by Kat Moser) that met weekly on Sunday mornings for the first show and Friday evenings for the last show. Da Billy Club followed over from the Golden Horseshoe Saloon to the ranch and many new members were added. (including our current web person, Jan Vincent who is still with us.) 

THE SYMPHONY SERIES

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 In 2001, we performed a series of Symphony Concerts around the United States in a series called"RED, WHITE & BLUEGRASS". We  performed with the Tulsa Philharmonic in Oklahoma, The Houston Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony and San Antonio Symphony in Texas, the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan and the Long Beach Symphony in California.

Photo: Billy and the Hillbillies in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in July 2001.

ADDING ANDERS

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In February of 2002, Anders Swanson became a sub for the band playing

bass and added a fun element to the show.


In this photo, Anders is posing with Billy Chicken, who played an important part in our shows when we did the infamous "CHICKEN LAUNCH" by launching a chicken across the stage from the upper stage left balcony, [better known as Walt's Booth] onto the opposite side of the stage. All while Rick played "Chicken With It's Head Cut Off".

ADDING RICK

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 n 2003, Evan Marshall left the band and was replaced by  Rick Storey on banjo and Dennis filling in on the mandolin [and fiddle].

Rick was a great addition with the high energy of banjo added to each show.



OUR 10,000th SHOW

DENNIS IS EXCITED!

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On Thursday, February 6, 2003 at the 1:15 pm show, our original team [since 1994] performed our 10,000th show at the Golden Horseshoe and were given a plague and cake by Disney Management. This team stayed the original Billy Hill team for 11 years working five days a week, 5 thirty-five minute shows a day.

10,000th SHOW PLAQUE

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 Our 10,000th Show Plaque 
On Thursday, February 6, 2003 , we were presented with a huge plaque that was to be mounted permanently on the backstage wall.

HIDDEN MICKEY PLAQUE

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They even added a hidden Mickey, just like the one on the vent screen just below the Golden Horseshoe stage. 

(which is probably still there)

10,000th Show Parking Ticket

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Most of the fans, who showed up for this event, got parking receipts with the date of our 10,000th show printed on it.  Several people asked us to autograph these tickets.

Kirk Rapping the 10,000th Show

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 We played to a packed house of fans, friends and 25+ dignitaries including our entertainment boss, Stan Freese and 40+ members of Da Billy Club, our fan club at the time. 
 

The Disneyland Today Brochure

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For those who remember, our closing  number for years was "Puddle Prance", where Kirk would get the bow stuck up his nose while going down the steps. His famous line was... "You wouldn't see this on a brochure." Our current web person, Jan actually photo-shopped a brochure for the occasion!

THE SURF GUITAR BIT

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Evan Marshall and Dennis Fetchet are doing the surf music bit in "Mama, Don't Allow", because Mama didn't allow surf music.... but we played it anyway!

THE "TEETH" BIT

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Kirk Wall or as we called him back then, WILLIAM, prepares the audience for the teeth bit.

MORE 10,000th Show

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Kirk Wall and John Marshall enjoying the positive attention and admiration from the audience during their 10,000th show.

THE HILLBILLIES GO SEVEN DAYS A WEEK...

On October 8, 2003, Disneyland decided to close the Golden Horseshoe Variety Show with Dana Daniels.

    Dana's show had played two days a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) with Billy Hill and the Hillbillies playing the other five days.  


It was decided that the Billy Hill Show would go to seven days a week with 35 shows a week.    


  In order to arrange this task and still allow the show's castmembers to have two days a week off,  three  Hillbilly teams were created.   

 There have been tons of other team combinations over the years using subs.

Helping over the years were many, many wonderful subs who filled in when needed including: Kevin Gregg [Billy Red] on guitar and lead, Cory Rouse [Billy Barney] on Guitar and lead, Denny Moynahan on guitar and lead, Denny Hardwick on guitar and lead, Barry Cogert on bass, Rick Dunham on bass, banjo and guitar, Jonny Ray Bartel on slap bass, Arshag Chookarian on guitar and washboard, Dave Eastly on bass and banjo, Phil Ward on guitar, Keith Rosier, on bass, Eric Brenton on fiddle, and Farley the Fiddler(of course, on fiddle).   

THE BLUE TEAM

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Anders Swanson   on bass and fiddle

Dennis Fetchet  on fiddle and mandolin

Kirk Wall,  lead on guitar and fiddle

Rick Storey  on banjo and guitar 


This team performed on 

Sundays and Mondays.

This is the team that eventually became known as Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies.

THE GREEN TEAM

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John David on guitar;
John Marshall on bass and fiddle;
Evan Marshall on mandolin and fiddle;

John Eaden , leadon guitar;

 and a really tiny fiddle.

This team played on 
Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

 With the departure of Evan Marshall, the Newer Green Team was created
 

John Marshall, John Eaden, 
John David and Duane Michaels
or as we like to call them; 
The Three Johns and Duane.

THE GOLD TEAM

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Kirk Wall, lead on guitar and fiddle, 
Dennis Fetchet on mandolin and fiddle, 

Duane Michaels on Mandolin and fiddle 

John Marshall on bass and fiddle.


This team performed on 

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

DISNEYLAND SAYS "BYE-BYE HILLBILLIES"...

MOVING TO BIG THUNDER RANCH ARENA

 On Tuesday, June 18, 2012, we began performing at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree Arena, where we had started many years ago in Pigmania.

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies could sometimes be found performing 7 days a week at either the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland or at the Thunder Ranch Jamboree behind Thunder Mountain.  

THE BEGINNING OF THE END...

 In November of 2013 while in rehearsal for the holiday season, Disney presented all three Billy Hill Teams and their subs with  "Pink Slips" and announced that Disneyland was retiring their show.


On Monday, January 6, 2014, the show, "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies" was retired after 21+ years as a team at Disneyland and for some of us 26+ years working for the mouse. 

A FOND FAREWELL!!!


Because the final show date fell on a Monday, our Blue Team performed for the last time.


The final 5:30 pm show was attended by more than 1,000+ faithful fans and it touched our hearts to know that fans thought that much of our show.

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Local newspapers called it... 

"The Day the Music Died".

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The final bow on behalf of all three teams included Dennis Fetchet, Anders Swanson, Kirk Wall and Rick Storey

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We were so touched that so many people cared about us and our show. 

Thank you all!

HELLO, KNOTT'S BERRY FARM....

WE MOVE TO THE FARM!

 After our time at Disneyland ended, we were hired less than a week later to perform on a weekly basis at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. We decided to change our band's official name to "Kirk Wall and the Hillbillies" and "Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies" in order to perform at outside venues without confusing our guests. 

 

On Saturday, January 11, 2014, we began playing at Knott's Berry Farm on a regular basis starting in the Wilderness Lodge and moving eventually into The Birdcage Theater in Ghost Town.

Along the way in 2017, we began playing seasonally in the Historic Knott's Wagon Camp and gained a drummer in the person of Brad Conyers, a Knott's sound tech with a great sense of rhythm.

In April of 2019, our long-time fiddler, Dennis Fetchet was retired and replaced by one time Ghost Town Miner member, Eric Brenton. Eric joins us on fiddle, mandolin, and electric guitar.

​We hope to see you all in the near future as we continue to perform country, bluegrass, Broadway Show Tunes, The Beatles and comedy, our style!​​


Keep watching here or an Facebook for any upcoming events!
See our schedule HERE, as we are currently performing week-ends at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.
 

Kirk Wall and the Hillbillies can also be seen on our official Facebook

@ Kirk Wall and the Hillbillies

Our Fan Facebook Page is located @ Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies

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