Tuesday, February 2, 2016

For the Love of Music: Best Festivals in February 2016



Love it or hate it, you’ll admit that Valentine’s Day is a polarizing holiday. So, let’s focus instead on something we can all enjoy: the wide variety of great music festivals happening this month! Here are just a few of the events we’re looking forward to attending in February:

Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering (2/5/2016 – 2/7/2016) in Sierra Vista, Arizona
Celebrating the rich heritage of Cowboy Country, this unique event draws artists from around the country. Attendees will enjoy live performances by the likes of Floyd Beard, Almeda Bradshaw, Mike Dunn, Janice Deardorff and others as well as theater, art and cultural exhibitions.

Central Illinois Jazz Festival (2/5/2016 – 2/7/2016) in Decatur, Illinois
This lively event kicks off with the Friday Afternoon Patrons Party and continues through the weekend with a Gala New Orleans Style Umbrella Parade, Ragtime Pianorama and Banjorama, and Late Night Jam Sessions. It’s been around for 40 years now, and it just keeps getting bigger and better. If you love live jazz music, you don’t want to miss this.

Laguna Beach Music Festival (2/10/2016 – 2/14/2016) in Laguna Beach, California
Could there be a more scenic location for a music festival? The fact that it’s set right on the shores of California’s Orange County, however, is only one reason to attend. From the opening night cocktail party (the much-anticipated Festival Prelude) to a series of breathtaking live performances, this festival spares nothing when it comes to elegant entertainment.

Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival (2/12/2016 – 2/14/2016) in Denver, Colorado
One of the country’s favorite indoor bluegrass events, this mid-winter festival invites you to step in out of the cold and party the night away. There will be vocal and instrumental workshops, a vendors’ fair, a band scramble, tons of jamming and live performances by The Grascals, April Verch Band, Front Country, Molly Tuttle, and many, many more.

Virginia Key Grassroots Festival (2/18/2016 – 2/21/2016) in Miami, Florida
Leave it to Florida to put on a fantastic outdoor music festival in the dead of winter. This year’s lineup includes Aaron Lebos Reality, 33 Years, Bluejay, The Blind Spots, Driftwood, Laila Belle, Ketchy Shuby and other regional and national acts from around the country. You also won’t want to miss the many workshops, or the onsite Culture Camp.

Neuse River Music Fest (2/19/2016 – 2/20/2016) in Kinston, North Carolina
Reserve your ticket now to witness Reno and Harrell, The Malpass Brothers, The Grascals, Hwy 58 Bluegrass, Ted Jones and other American legends live on the main stage! There will also be raffles to hold your attention, and a VIP Reception on Saturday for autographs and photo opportunities.

Noise Pop (2/19/2016 – 2/28/2016) in San Francisco, California
Each year since 1993, Noise Pop takes over the City by the Bay to celebrate an independent music scene you won’t find anywhere else. This year’s lineup features Drive Like Jehu, Carly Rae Jepsen, American Football, Metric and other darlings of the indie music scene performing at various venues throughout San Francisco.

Didn’t see what you’re looking for? Try one of these February music festivals instead:

Colorado River Bluegrass Festival (2/19/2016 – 2/21/2016) in Bullhead City, Arizona
Hope Winter Bluegrass (2/6/2016) in Hope, Arkansas
New Music Festival (2/24/2016 – 2/28/2016) in Fullerton, California
University of Chicago Folk Festival (2/12/2016 – 2/13/2016) in Chicago, Illinois
Winter Folk Music Festival (2/5/2016 – 2/7/2016) in Kerhonkson, New York
North Carolina Jazz Festival (2/4/2016 – 2/6/2016) in Wilmington, North Carolina
Fargo Winter Blues Fest (2/6/2016) in Fargo, North Dakota
River City Blues Competition Weekend (2/19/2016 – 2/20/2016) in Marietta, Ohio
Portland Jazz Festival (2/18/2016 – 2/28/2016) in Portland, Oregon
Millennium Music Conference (2/19/2016 – 2/21/2016) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Wintergrass (2/25/2016 – 2/28/2016) in Bellevue, Washington
Gardner Winter Music Festival (2/25/2016 – 2/27/2016) in Morgantown, West Virginia


Find more information on events near you at FestivalNet.com, and keep checking back with us here at HillTop Records as we continue to bring you the latest news and updates from the American music scene!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

8 Popular Songs You Didn’t Know Came From Movies



It’s officially awards season and everywhere you look, people are discussing their picks for titles like Best Movie, Best Film Score – and, of course, Best Original Song.

In honor of this entertainment-filled time of year, we thought we’d take you through some songs that were originally written for movies – but have since become so popular that you’d never know it. It just goes to show that successful inspiration can come from anywhere!

1. “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor (Rocky III, 1982)

Legend has it that when Sylvester Stallone couldn’t get the rights to use Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” for this installment of the Rocky series, he hired Survivor to write an original tune. He couldn’t have predicted that the song would become more popular than the film. To this day, it’s hard to attend a live sporting event without hearing it at least once.

2. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly (Space Jam, 1996)

In what might have been the most ridiculous yet ingenious cross-promotional stunt of the year, basketball legend Michael Jordan starred in his own Looney Tunes crossover film in 1996 – at the height of his career. At the time, R. Kelly’s star was also flying high – and the song he wrote for Space Jam won three Grammy Awards and secured a place in the hearts of American children everywhere.

3. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, 1969)

A sweet little song we hum when the weather turns wet, this tune was actually written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach (and supposedly recorded by B.J. Thomas in just seven takes, while the singer was recovering from laryngitis) for the classic film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It also won the Oscar for Best Original Song that year.

4. “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees (Saturday Night Fever, 1977)

The song that now epitomizes the disco era decades later was created specifically for the John Travolta classic – but it didn’t just help the movie star’s career. Many people across the U.S. who have never seen the film still hear the song’s chorus in their head (and know all the words to it) every time they think of disco.

5. “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men (Boomerang, 1992)

It’s hard to imagine that this classic breakup anthem, which still manages to bring a tear to many a listener’s eye, was actually created for an Eddie Murphy movie – and not even one of his most successful. Contrary to the film, the song did extraordinarily well and even spent 13 weeks at the number spot on the U.S. Billboard charts.

6. “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal (Batman Forever, 1995)

This song wasn’t technically written for the film; it was first released as a single, but did not do well commercially. A short while later, Seal was approached by Joel Schumacher, who wanted to use the song in a now-iconic love scene between Nicole Kidman and Val Kilmer. Seal agreed, and the rest is history.

7. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis (Blue Hawaii, 1961)

Nowadays, most people probably know this song from the oldies radio station or the first dance at someone’s wedding – but the classic love song was actually written for an Elvis film. It went on to reach Platinum status, and remains one of the most iconic love songs long after the film has largely been forgotten.

8. “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, 1991)

Another romantic ballad easily recognized decades after its release, this Bryan Adams classic spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 – making it a good deal more popular than the film it was written for. While both the song and movie were intentionally over-the-top, the sappy and melodramatic tone apparently worked better in musical form.


For more fun facts, important updates and news from the American music industry, keep checking back with us at HillTop Records.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year, New Festivals! The Best in January, 2016



The beginning of January is synonymous with fresh starts, goals and planning – and we’re all looking forward to the year ahead! But first, we’ve got our eyes on the amazing music festivals and events happening around the country this month – because what better way to ring in 2016 than with wonderful live music and fun?

NewSong Showcase & Contest (1/7/2016) in New York, New York
Now in its 14th year, this showcase and competition for new American songs is one of the best in the nation. Come to Lincoln Center to see twelve finalists perform and compete for the grand prize, and cheer on your favorites among like-minded music lovers. It’s a fun way to ring in the new year!

Boston Celtic Music Fest (1/8/2016 – 1/9/2016) in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Created to showcase Greater Boston’s best musicians, singers and dancers from Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and other Celtic traditions, this weekend-long festival again brings more than 100 performers into the spotlight. Come to eat, drink, dance and sing along – and leave with a greater appreciation for rich Celtic traditions.

International Festival (1/9/2016) in Madison, Wisconsin
If you’re in the Madison area and have yet to visit the Overture Center, built by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli, you’re missing out – and this free event is the perfect way to rectify the problem. The International Festival will beautifully enhance the nearly all-white building (as well as January’s matching snowy landscape) by adding vivid color through costumes, performances, crafts and foods that celebrate the local community’s rich diversity.

Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival (1/15/2016 – 1/16/2016) in Cherokee, Iowa
Where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Lakes, Cherokee welcomes you to a weekend of wonderful live music. Enjoy the educational clinic, the lively pub crawl and the jam session, as well as performances by the likes of Blue Cities, Brody Buster, Daylight Again, the Jim Oatts Quintet and Brightside. The grand finale of the weekend is the Big Band Dance, complete with performances by Leo Lonnie Orchestra.

Blythe Bluegrass Festival (1/15/2016 – 1/17/2016) in Blyth, California
Always held the third weekend of January, Blythe’s bluegrass festival is typically the first of the year – and one that people look forward to. It has welcomed some of the finest acts in bluegrass, and continues to provide a jam-packed weekend year after year. Enjoy live performances on two gigantic stages as well as contests, a quilt show, food and merchandise booths.

Tampa Bay Black Heritage Music Fest (1/16/2016 – 1/17/2016) in Tampa, Florida
In the days leading up to the Martin Luther King Holiday Weekend, this music festival celebrates a rich heritage and legacy. Over two full days it offers live performances by national artists, an array of health and wellness features, cultural and educational activities, vendors, and more. Be sure to check out Artists Village, Authors Village, Greek Village, Corporate Village, Health Village and (if you’re attending with little ones) Childrens Village.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival (1/29/2016 – 1/30/2016) in Ann Arbor, Michigan
This unique music festival promises to help you “find your folk!” while supporting The Ark’s annual non-profit programming of folk, roots and ethnic acoustic music. Tickets can be purchased for a single evening but if you’re a fan of folk music, consider one of the weekend packages; the line-up this year is worth it. It’s got Joan Baez, The Oh Hellos, Darlingside, Rose Cousins and more.

Mid-Winter Singing Festival (1/29/2016 – 1/30/2016) in East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan’s also closing out the first month of the year with this one-of-a-kind event – a music festival that encourages participants to sing along! For two nights, attendees may enjoy the unique phenomenon that is 500 people singing in unison, as well as afternoon workshops and other activities. Don’t worry – lyrics will be provided at the door.

Didn’t see what you’re looking for? Try one of these great January events instead:

– Winterfest Bluegrass Festival (1/8/2016 – 1/9/2016) in Perrysburg, Ohio
– Bryan Jackson Music Festival (1/9/2016) in Fort Pierce, Florida
– Lake Chelan Winterfest (1/15/2016 – 1/24/2016) in Chelan, Washington
– Winter Music Festival (1/16/2016 – 1/17/2016) in Florence, Oregon
– YeeHaw Junction Bluegrass Festival (1/21/2016 – 1/23/2016) in Okeechobee, Florida
– Pinal Agri-Country Bluegrass Festival (1/22/2016 – 1/24/2016) in Casa Grande, Arizona
– Sixth Pigz in Z’Hills BBQ & Blues Fest (1/16/2016) in Zephyrhills, Florida
– International Blues Challenge (1/26/2016 – 1/30/2016) in Memphis, Tennessee
– Arizona MusicFest (1/29/2016 – 3/11/2016) in Scottsdale, Arizona

For more information on festivals near you, visit FestivalNet.com – and for more news and updates from the American music industry, be sure to keep checking back with us at HillTop Records!


Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top 10 New Christmas Albums for 2015 to Give and Receive



Think you’ve heard it all when it comes to Christmas music? Think again! This year has brought a new collection of fun and festive albums, from exciting compilations to unique renditions of age-old classics. And since we all know that the best gift on Earth is the gift of music, we recommend picking up a few of these to stuff some stockings with.

Kenny Rogers – Once Again It’s Christmas
Released back in September, this long-anticipated Christmas album is proving to be one of the biggest of the year. This is the ninth holiday album from country and pop icon Kenny Rogers, and it’s jam-packed with guest stars and great renditions of holiday classics.

India Arie – Christmas With Friends featuring Joe Sample
The soulful musical stylings of India Arie are back, this time in a highly collaborative Christmas release (her first.) The list of guests is long, with the most notable among them the late jazz legend Joe Sample, who is featured on four tracks.

LeAnn Rimes – Today Is Christmas
LeAnn Rimes is no stranger to holiday albums, but this one might be her most ambitious. It features collaborations with Gavin Degraw and Aloe Blacc, as well as original Christmas songs including the title track.

Mint Condition – Healing Season
If smooth R&B is more your speed, pick up the latest album by Mint Condition. Tracks range from new takes on old standbys (“Little Drummer Boy,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”) to new, original songs (“Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto.”)

Kylie Minogue – Kylie Christmas
Global pop sensation Kylie Minogue’s first full-length holiday studio album is (unsurprisingly) the perfect thing to play at a lively Christmas soiree. Tracks include modern renditions of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Christmas Wrapping” (which also features Iggy Pop.)

KC and the Sunshine Band – A Sunshine Christmas
One of the most successful groups back in the days of disco, KC and the Sunshine Band is still going strong – and now they’ve even got a holiday album. Enjoy classic favorites like “Last Christmas” and “Carol of the Bells” as only this sunny band can do them.

Danny Gokey – Christmas Is Here
He may not have won American Idol, but Danny Gokey has definitely made a name for himself in the Christian music community. His latest album features traditional favorites like “White Christmas” and “Mary, Did You Know?” – and if you’re lucky, you may even catch him on tour this season.

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Rockin’ Rudolph
For the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Christmas is a time to party – and this festive album is proof of that. Crank up the volume and enjoy such timeless tunes as “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – It’s a Holiday Soul Party
True to its name, this album from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings is all about soul – and bursting with festive holiday spirit. It’s their first Christmas album, and it’s got such fun and funky tracks as “Funky Little Drummer Boy” and “Ain’t No Chimneys In the Projects.”

MercyMe – MercyMe, It’s Christmas
With five consecutive #1 hits on the Christian album chart under their belt, MercyMe has now released their second holiday album (the first was ten years ago.) It features beautiful versions of “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”


Remember, keep following us right here at HillTop Records for more news and updates from the American music industry – and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Deck the Halls With These December Music Festivals



We’re officially in the home stretch of 2015 – but before we wave goodbye to the year, we must celebrate! And what better way to do that than with fun, food and plenty of live music?

Here are some great music festivals we want to go to this December:

Humboldt Artisans Crafts & Music Festival (12/4/2015 – 12/6/2015) in Eureka, California
In order for a music festival to last 35 years, it’s got to be pretty good – and this one sure fits the bill. For three full days, music-lovers and crafters are invited to beautiful Redwood Acres to enjoy shopping for unique holiday gifts, listening to live local music, and endless holiday cheer. Best of all, admission is free for children and seniors after 5 p.m. – and free for anyone who brings a gift for the festival’s onsite toy drive.

The Night of 100 Elvises (12/5/2015) in Baltimore, Maryland
Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind live music experience? Look no further. The 22nd annual Night of 100 Elvises promises to be an incredible multi-talent event on three stages in multiple venues in Downtown Baltimore – and, just like the name indicates, it’s perfect for Elvis lovers. From Elvis-themed gourmet chocolates to Elvis-shaped ice sculptures to (you guessed it!) Elvis impersonators and tribute artists, The King will be everywhere you look – as will his music.

Saint Cloud Holiday Festival (12/5/2015 – 12/6/2015) in Saint Cloud, Florida
A long-standing tradition in its 37th year, this lively festival is one residents of Saint Cloud wait all year for. It will bring together over 120 crafters, carnival foods, chalk artists, antique cars and live music in a fun and festive atmosphere that extends throughout the town center. If you’re not already in the holiday spirit, you will be after this event!

Olde Towne Holiday Music Festival Weekend (12/12/2015) in Portsmouth, Virginia
Christmastime always tends to bring with it an air of nostalgia, and this beautiful festival is a great way to honor that. Join fellow revelers for live musical tributes sure to get you in the holiday spirit, as entertainers dressed in traditional costume roam the streets of Olde Towne. There will also be children’s activities, re-enactments, and vendors.

IMFCON (12/13/2015 – 12/15/2015) in San Diego, California
The International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) is the only conference that addresses the issues facing the music festival industry – and, as such, it always draws a crowd of industry veterans and like-minded fans. There will be panels of industry experts and thought leaders discussing hot-button topics, and attendees will have the chance to discover the latest trends within the industry.

Jekyll Island New Year’s Bluegrass Festival (12/31/2015 – 1/2/2016) in Jekyll Island, Georgia
If you love bluegrass music, we’ve got your plans for New Year’s Eve. Inside the brand-new Jekyll Island Convention Center, protected from the elements, attendees will be treated to the musical stylings of Daily & Vincent, Blue Highway, Lou Reid and Carolina, Nothin’ Fancy and many other beloved bluegrass acts as they pay their final respects to 2015 – and give a warm, musical welcome to 2016.

More fun-filled festivals and events to watch for this month:
 Eaton Music Festival and Craft Show (12/5/2015 – 12/6/2015) in Eaton, Ohio
– Jazz’N With Santa Holiday Music & Craft Show (12/6/2015) in Helotes, Texas
– Southern Pines Blues & BBQ Festival (12/11/2015 – 12/12/2015) in Perry, Florida
– Country Christmas 1 and 2 (12/12/2015 and 12/19/2015) in Auburn, California
– Christmas Music Fest (12/19/2015) in Satsuma, Florida


For more information on events happening near you, visit FestivalNet.com – and for other updates and news from the American music industry, be sure to keep following us here at HillTop Records!