Last year when Beverly Hills rolled out its famous collector cars on Rodeo Drive for the annual Father's Day Car Show one of the most popular was the beat up clunker driven by Jethro Bodine in a famous TV series poking fun at wealthy snobs. The Beverly Hillbillies ranked among the top 20 most watched TV shows during its nine seasons, and came in number one several years with episodes that remain among the most watched of all time.
What is a hillbilly and why does California love them? Hillbilly (noun) - a person who lives in the country far away from cities and who is often regarded as someone who lacks education, who is stupid, etc. Synonyms include bumpkin, clodhopper, cornball and hick.
One weekend in May in Iowa Hill, a remote Placer County town built around the gold rush era, hosts an annual Hillbilly Chili Cook Off. Why would this place with a narrow, dangerous road and no landline phone service till 2010 qualify as either "hillbilly" or cool? The entire town of several hundred is off the grid, getting all their electricity from solar panels! Those who live in Iowa Hill love the quality of life not afforded in bigger cities such as Sacramento, and they poke a little fun at their independent status from time to time.
In those same Sierra foothills the town of Murphy has a diner called Hillbillies Restaurant. It actually was considered a grungy place till Food Network came along and helped the owner do a remake. The food is fantastic and reviews are positive.
And speaking of hillbillies, one of Disneyland's most popular bands ever, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, drew crowds eager to hear songs performed with banjos, mandolins, guitars and a definite bluegrass quality to them. Kirk Wall pops a set of crooked "teeth" into his mouth while performing, providing that undeniable hillbilly look. You can catch his band on occasion at Knott's Berry Farm and many seasons at the Orange County Marketplace Rockabilly concert series.