Thursday, December 15, 2011


Some years ago I read a book about the music industry which stated that the most important element needed to be successful in this business is momentum. Once you've established momentum in your career it is important to maintain that level of energy, not to let it wain or to overexert yourself and burn out too quickly. Honestly I think I have been guilty of both crimes in the past, but in more recent years I have been making more of an effort to plan things out and maintain a steady arc in my professional dealings, to not bite off more than I can chew at any one time but to not let myself get to lazy or complacent either. 

One of my concerns with doing this trip to China was that I would lose some of the momentum I have worked so hard to build up over the last two years in New York. After duking it out at showcase venues and tip-jar joints, we've finally carved out a nice spot at Wicked Willy's in the village playing the first Saturday of the month and really laying down the FUNK like you're supposed to! 

So as it happens, I had to lose one date we had booked there for February. But not wanting to sit on my laurels and let things get stale, I took the initiative of booking two dates for the summertime at Wicked Willy's: June 2nd and August 4th. I am working on getting some dates in July as well, looking at a venue in Pennsylvania and hoping to get something going on in the Boston area once again as well (it's been way too long!) 

Music news

Take a look at the schedule above. It's not much right now, but if I have anything to do with it that schedule will be steadily filling up with dates as time goes by. You can always click on the "Tour Dates" button above to see where and when I'll be performing next. Don't forget to click that big SHARE button too, and let all your friends know you're down with the funk. Hope to be seeing you at a show this summer! 

Monday, December 12, 2011


So I was back in New England this past weekend. This time I decided to ride in style and rent a vehicle. I'm just not really into breaking down on the side of the highway anymore. You know, it was fun when I was in my 20s and didn't have so much work to do, but it's kind of old now and I just need to get places and do things. I got a Nissan Sentra that proved to be fairly comfortable and far more reliable than my broken down Hyundai. You can see both new and old vehicles in the photo below.

The primary purpose of going back to Boston was to get together with Greg Luttrell and the band to make a video for the Chinese government; apparently they need to see a video of us playing so they will know that we are who we say we are and that we are really musicians and that whole thing... It was really good to see Greg and the guys again and to play with them all again. It's been quite a while, I think the last time this incarnation of the band had played together was when we were in St Barth's back in 2007.

(l to r: me, Jeff Gilman, Tony Hall, Greg Luttrell) 

While back in Massachusetts, the land of my birth, the place where it literally all started for me, I had a chance to meet up and spend time with a lot of good folks, some people who I hadn't seen in many years. I also spent a lot of time just thinking, reflecting. In the six years since leaving the Bay State I have done a lot, seen a lot, had a lot of great (and some not so great) experiences. I feel like I am on the verge of turning a page onto a new chapter in the story of my life right now. I don't know exactly what's going to happen or where I will end up, but I know its going to be great! I'm ready, and I can't hardly wait to see what's in store....   

Thursday, December 8, 2011


What a week I had last week! It started out lovely - visiting my family in Maine for the Thanksgiving holiday. Then while driving down to visit some friends in Massachusetts, my car breaks down. Thank goodness for my friend Jen who drove all the way up to Amesbury from Tewksbury to pick me up - thanks Jen!

So my car gets fixed and after a nice visit in Mass I made my way down to New York for my gig at Wicked Willy's last Saturday. The car was running good all the way down until I got onto the West Side Highway, and then wouldn't you know it I started having car problems again!

I was able to drive all the way down to the village where I found a great parking spot just around the corner from the venue (of course, I did get a parking ticket because I put the meter receipt upside down on my dash!) I loaded in my gear and spent the evening walking around the neighborhood, I got some slices at my favorite pizzeria in the city (Ben's Pizza on 3rd and MacDougal) and stopped into a few area bars.

The gig was hot! We had an excellent turnout and everyone was jammin'. It was truly a good time, I am so grateful to have found my funky home in New York City at Wicked Willy's! If you look above you will see a picture we took outside before the gig. They didn't come out too great, but fortunately one of my favorite hobbies is taking crappy cell phone pictures and making them look weird in Photo Shop.

After the gig I was fortunate to be able to crash at the apartment of my bass player Ben and his girlfriend Mary - thanks Ben and Mary! I had the car towed to a garage the next morning and took a bus back to Allentown. I think that my car has seen it's final days!

Okay, here's the deal: if you live ANYWHERE in the New York City area, even if you have to drive an hour or so, you have GOT TO come to our FINAL SHOW at WICKED WILLY'S before I leave for CHINA!!! No joke, make it happen, come on down!! You will be SO GLAD that you did!

The gig is on SATURDAY JANUARY 7th at 9PM SHARP!! The venue is located at 149 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. I'm telling you - you have got to be at this one!! We'll see you there.

By the way, yes I did get my car back (after paying a pretty hefty bill to a garage in Hell's Kitchen.) I drove it home from NY with no problem, but this morning I went to a meeting with a venue here in the Lehigh Valley (I'm looking to book some shows in this area for the summer - stay tuned for details!) and the clutch started giving out. Damn - anyone know where I can get a decent used car??

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hey there, folks. Long time no hear from, I know. I have been preoccupied with numerous life changes and goings on, but all is well and I am back to business as usual....

For all of you in the New York City area, you probably have heard by now that the band and I have been performing regularly over at WICKED WILLY'S in the Village. Every time we play there its a little more fun and exciting than the last, and we are so grateful have to found such a cool venue to call our home in The Big Apple!

If you haven't checked us out there yet, you will have a chance this coming SATURDAY DECEMBER 3rd at 9 PM. Trust me, if you love THE FUNK like I do you are going to have a blast as we mix our originals with classics by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire. So tell all your friends about us and come on down! Wicked Willy's is located at 149 Bleecker St. New York, NY.

In other news I will be traveling to Shanghai China with my long time friend and collaborator Greg Luttrell for a four month stint. I am really looking forward to playing with Greg and the guys again, and I am so excited to check out the sites in China! I will be leaving the states in late January and will be on the road for four months - I can't wait!!

Before I head out there though, it is my hope to be able to release a new recording for you all. Now I know what you are thinking: "This guy must be crazy, he's been talking about releasing a new album for YEARS!" and you're right. It's been too long and I am way over due for something. Despite the many setbacks I have been made to endure, I am not too far from completing a release and it WILL be done soon!!

I sincerely hope that everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving holiday, and I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season as well! I am going to make an effort to blog more often now (especially now that I have remembered my log in info lol) So I hope that we will be seeing a lot more of each other in the days and months to come. :)

Don't forget to check the dates page, listen to music clips and watch videos anytime here at web site, and please check in often for news and updates.

Big Ben

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Hello  Friends,

Yes I know, it has once again been ages since I have posted one of these things. Rest assured I have been busy throwing down the FUNK just like I always do! This past weekend was INSANE!! I was at THE LOWELL FOLK FESTIVAL once again this year, just like I had been for the last three years. This time I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with JEN KEARNEY, THE RYAN MONTBLEAU BAND and most amazingly the triumphant return of COTTON MOUTH. At certain points during the evening it kind of felt like a 90s flashback for all those of us who attended U MASS LOWELL back then! Then after taking a crazy detour through New Jersey (I really shouldn't drive when I'm tired! lol) I played a gig down at KUN FU NECKTIE in Philadelphia along with headlining act KAREEM. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the lovely host, Philly's own BARBARA SHAREE who absolutely STUNNED the crowd with her amazing voice! We had a chance to chat after the show, and she actually gave me a lot of great advice about the industry and the Philadelphia scene. Thanks so much Barbara!!

The winds of change are blowing for me on a personal level as I prepare to kick my career into overdrive. Lots of things to consider as I am working on finally completing my full length album, start working on a new one, and also I am constantly writing new material. There may be some more singles coming soon - if I can manage this juggling act! I am not exactly sure what the next chapter of my life will bring, but that's all part of the adventure. Isn't it?

If you are in the NEW YORK CITY area you should come check out the band and I THIS FRIDAY AUGUST 5th at WICKED WILLY'S on Bleeker Street. This might be the last show I have booked for a while, so you should definitely make a point of coming down and saying hello! Hope to see you all there - enjoy the rest of your summer and stay FUNKY people!!

Big Ben

Monday, June 27, 2011


Hey gang, so once again I find myself playing "catch up" with all of you all who have been trying to follow my blog! So much has happened, and there is so much more to come!

First off I have to give props to the band I&I who have shared the stage with us twice in the last couple months, once in New York City at KENNY'S CASTAWAYS and most recently at PUCK in Doylestown PA. Both acts put on great sets, and at the end of the night we got together for a big jam session. It was awesome! To see some highlights from Puck check out this video:

I&I, Big Ben Hillman and the Royal Family / Puck Live / 06.17.11 [HD]

There are plenty more opportunities upcoming to see Big Ben and The Fam in action.... next up we'll be playing in Maine for a special summer music series called Music On The Hill. Later in July we'll be returning to Lowell MA for the Lowell Folk Festival on Friday July 29th. This will be en exciting night full of Lowell music legends; not only will the fabulous Ryan Montbleau be headlining the show, but there will also be reunion of Cotton Mouth!! The topping off that same weekend, I will be performing at a new club in Philadelphia called KUNG FU NECK TIE!! That will be on Saturday July 30th. Exciting stuff!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Hey everyone, I know its been a minute since I have posted anything on here. I was kind of under the weather for a minute, and as usual I have been busy living my life at a mile a minute! But I don't want to be neglectful of my blog, so I thought I would just take this opportunity to remind you all about some upcoming performances we have!

Once again THE FAMILY and I will be returning to KENNY'S CASTAWAYS in NYC on SATURDAY JUNE 11th at 10 PM. Also joining us will be special guests THE KENYA HALL BAND from Portland, ME. Kenya Hall is a phenomenal vocalist whose soulful grooves will make you wanna stand up and kiss somebody! You don't want to miss one, y'all (but then you don't want to miss ANY of them, do you?) Of course we were at Kenny's not too long ago, playing along side Philly hip-hoppers I&I. It was a truly great night, a good time was had by all, and the two bands even shared the stage at one point, jamming together on a couple tunes. Here is a photo from that night, taken by my friend Amy Foxman:

Also to note, our next WICKED WILLY's gig for JULY 1 has been canceled! We are working on scheduling something new. Stay tuned for detains - and we look forward to seeing you all real soon!

Peace and love,
Big Ben

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Ok New York City, it's time once again for all of you to come on out, get on up, get on down and GROOVE to some good FUNK, SOUL and HIP HOP music!! This SATURDAY MAY 21st, BIG BEN HILLMAN the PROFESSOR of FUNK and THE ROYAL FAMILY will be playing at KENNY'S CASTAWAYS on Bleeker St in NYC, along with special guests progressive hip hop group I&I.

I met I&I at a gig we did together down at PUCK LIVE in Doyelstown, PA. It was a great show, and I was so impressed with not only lead MC IMANI WILLIAMS rhymes and vocals, but also the way the instrumentalists DAN FAGA and RYAN CHUD used loop samples and good old fashioned organic jamming to create these massive grooves - you would think there were a ten piece orchestra on stage instead of just a trio!

You should know by now what to expect from THE FAMILY - nothing but good funky grooves that you can MOVE to!! But in case you didn't know, here is a little video I put together to give you just a taste of what to expect:

"It Must Have Been the Music"
is a classic ROYAL FAM cut from back in the day, featuring my good friend NEPHROK! on lead vocals. It's still one of our most popular numbers during loves sets; no one can resist getting up and SHAKING something once this beat kicks in!! I had fun making this little video too, messing around with graphics and animation is something I want to do more of.

Okay kids - we'll see you at the show!! Be good to yourselves and each other, and continue to support THE FUNK!!!

Big Ben

Monday, May 9, 2011

"PASS THE JUICE" included on BEST OF THUMP AND GROWL compilation.

I am very pleased and excited to say that my song "PASS THE JUICE" featuring D-TENSION, LOKI, JISE ONE and DALE CHASE has been receiving semi-regular airplay on the show "THUMP AND GROWL" hosted by Kimberly Massengill on 99.5 FM WBAI in New York. Not only that, but if you tune in tomorrow TUESDAY MAY 10th between TEN AM and NOON you have an opportunity to score a copy of "The Best of Thump and Growl, Vol 2" a special compilation being offered as a part of the station's fund-raising efforts, and which includes (wait for it... ) "PASS THE JUICE." Yes!!! 


It is my understanding that this compilation will only be offered for this one day. So don't miss out!! Tune in to the show, pledge a whole bunch of money and get a copy for yourself!

A quick update on the album: more studio time coming up this month - some additional tracking and mixing. It's all coming together. Summer of 2011 is going to be the summer when it all goes down, so stay tuned for more details!!

In the meantime, check out this clean radio edit of PASS THE JUICE on YOUTUBE....

Big Ben

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


So even though I live relatively close to Philadelphia, I don't get to play in Philly all that often - which is sad. So I am attempting to DO something about this! Hence tomorrow night WEDNESDAY MAY 4th I will once again be returning to TRTIONE on Philadelphia's famous SOUTH STREET for an evening of good LIVE FUNK and SOUL music!

There is an event happening earlier in the evening called "Philly for Change" which gets over at 9pm, at which point we will take to the stage and start throwing down the jams! Joining me this evening will be a talented vocalist, my good friend HAZEL MARTINO, performing some of the new songs she has written and recorded. It's going to be off the hook!! 

If we get a good turnout then there is a possibility of turning FUNK NIGHT @ TRITONE into a monthly event. So, if you are in the Philadelphia area and you love good live funk music - PLEASE come out and show your support. Don't let the music die!!

We'll see you on the dancefloor, y'all - get down!

Big Ben

Monday, April 25, 2011


To all my friends in New York City and the surrounding areas, please tune into 99.5 WBAI tomorrow to hear my good friend Kimberly Massengill's program "THUMP & GROWL" which runs every Tuesday from 10 am to noon. On Tuesday April 26th she will be spinning some of my tunes to help promote the show we are playing at WICKED WILLY'S on FRIDAY MAY 6th.

Of course if you are not in the NYC area you can STILL listen to the show. Just log onto and click on "Listen Live."  


Thanks everyone - please continue to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FUNK!!! 

Big Ben

Monday, April 11, 2011

Good times at THE SHRINE, returning to PUCK LIVE

I was amazed at how quickly and easily I was able to get into the city on Saturday night; the roads were clear, I flew right through the Lincoln Tunnel and the West Side Highway wasn't too crowded. Even making that dreaded left-hand turn from125th Street in Harlem onto Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd wasn't too difficult a task this evening, and so I thought to myself "What is going on tonight? Where is everyone? Will we have a crowd at our gig tonight?" Well as it turns out we had a decent crowd and a hell of a good time over at THE SHRINE, just as we always do. It was good to see some old familiar faces as well as to meet some new folks. Much thanks to Mary Rauh for taking some splendid photos that evening.

I am working on booking gigs for the summer, hoping to get some good ones and keep myself really busy. Still working on it, and of course you can keep track of where the band and I will be by checking in to the "Dates" page here on my web site. Just a heads up for all of you in the Bucks County area in Pennsylvania - THE FAM will be returning to PUCK LIVE in Doyelstown, PA on FRIDAY JUNE 17th along with our good friends I&I. This will be a fantastic night of music at a great venue, and I look forward to coming back and funking it up again!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to hang out, check out some music and videos. If you need to holler at me you can always drop me a line through the contact page. I'd love to hear from you!

Big Ben

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I really have to thank all of the people who came out to TRITONE on SOUTH ST in PHILLY this past weekend, including all of the fantastic musicians who were there! I really enjoyed meeting and opening for New York based band EVERYBOY, and I wish them good luck as they kick off their US tour this week! It was also a great pleasure for me to have some of the best players the City of Brother Love has to offer sitting in with me: WARREN MOBLEY on BASS, TYRONE FREDERICKS,JR on SAX and TERRELL FLOYD on DRUMS. It was a great night, and I really hope we can get back in there again sometime soon!

This weekend on SATURDAY APRIL 9th I will be returning to THE SHRINE in HARLEM with my NEW YORK crew!! It's always a good time at The Shrine, so you don't want to miss out if you are going to be in the New York area. Besides, it also happens to be my BIRTHDAY WEEKEND and I most certainly will be in a celebratory mood!

In other news: I recently had the pleasure of remixing a track by my good friend and collaborator DALE CHASE called "A Walk In The Park." Already a smooth track from his most recent release, I had fun giving it the PROFESSOR FUNK treatment with a phat instrumental I laid down. You can grab a free download here:


That's all for now, folks - stay tuned and I hope to see all of you out at THE SHRINE this weekend!!

Big Ben

Friday, March 25, 2011


Considering I have been living in the Philadelphia area for nearly 5 years now, the Family and I have done relatively few gigs in the City of Brotherly Love. Well Philly, here is your chance to come down and get funk with us! On SUNDAY APRIL 3rd I will be performing at TRITONE, a very hip little music venue on SOUTH STREET.

I will be joining artists Wendy Parr and everyBoy for an intimate evening of singer-songwriter style original tunes. I am looking forward to playing in this setting, as it isn't something I get to do very often. I am hoping this will be the beginning of a successful string of performances in the Philly area, so please come down and show your support!

Thank you and God bless,
Big Ben

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Recently I took a trip back to my old home town of LOWELL MASS to perform at GEMSTONES along with JEN KEARNEY and D-TENSION. It was something of a homecoming for me, and it was really great to see so many good friends come out and represent!

While I was there I had an opportunity to stop by the studios of the legendary Lowell radio station WCAP. I sat for a bit and talked with host Jack Baldwin (pictured below) during the program "Living For The Weekend" to promote the show and talk about the upcoming album.

All in all it was a very busy weekend, culminating in a jam session at WMBR radio in Cambridge and a recording session for the album project. I will blog more about those things in some future posts. But I have to give a great big thanks to everyone who made this weekend so special, everyone at Gemstones, WCAP, to Joe G and to D Tension and Jen Kearney as well. And last but not least, everyone in the band: Chuck, Joe, Ben, Jen and Pete. You guys are funky as hell, and you never fail to let everyone know why we are known as "The Royal Family!!"

Sunday, March 6, 2011


So it occurred to me at maybe around 7:30 last night that it was MARDI GRAS weekend, and here I was about to play a gig at a venue named after the great city that made Mardi Gras famous!! THE BIG EASY in Portland ME has long been one of my favorite spots to jam, and last night was by far the most fun I've had over there to date! Fortunately, I remembered to get a shot of the band and myself BEFORE I went on stage and got all sweaty and gross....

Thanks to Robyn Alman for taking photos. More pics will be forthcoming.

Big ups to KENYA HALL and THE KENYA HALL band for not only inviting us to come and share the stage with all of them, but also for tearing it down and playing a hot show themselves!!! I have been wanting to hook up a gig with these cats for a HOT minute, and I am so glad we could finally do it. Much thanks to Ken and all the good folks over at The Big Easy for being so hospitable and making us all feel so welcome; it was truly a pleasure to perform there and I look forward to coming back. And of course a great big thanks to all the good people in Portland who came out and partied with us!!

You can catch Kenya and myself in NEW YORK CITY on SATURDAY JUNE 11th, along with JEN KEARNEY at KENNY'S CASTAWAYS on Bleeker St.

Peace and love,
Big Ben

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

D-TENSION added to GEMSTONES line-up!!!

As I am sure you all know by now, I will be returning to my hometown of LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS on FRIDAY MARCH 18th to perform at GEMSTONES (upstairs at THE BLUE SHAMROCK) with my good friend and long time collaborator JEN KEARNEY. But the BIG NEWS is that we have added another good friend to the bill: HIP HOP artist D-TENSION will be joining us, performing songs from his brand new release "WACK MUSIC FOR DOPE PEOPLE."

A word to the wise: if you are planning to come to this show (which I know you are!!) plan to get there early, as I am sure this one is gonna fill up fast!!! I can't wait to see all of you there!!!

Big Ben

Friday, February 25, 2011


Hey All,

Check out my schedule on the dates page for frequent updates and additions of new shows!! The most recent addition will be THE BIG EASY in PORTLAND MAINE on SATURDAY MARCH 5th.

Also performing that evening will be local soul-singing sensation KENYA HALL. So if you or anyone you know are in the Portland area that weekend please come on down and get your groove on with us!!

Don't forget too, the band and I will be performing at WICKED WILLY'S in NEW YORK CITY on WEDNESDAY MARCH 2nd.

Come on out all you FUNK-HEADS and let's get it done right!!!

Peace and love,
Big Ben

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Awesome Session at Melody Lanes!!

We made a HUGE step towards the completion of my first full length recording project last weekend, tracking background vocals and some bass on some tunes at Melody Lanes studio in Brooklyn, NY. Here are a couple of shots taken that day:

I have some video from the session I will be posting at some point as well, so stay tuned for that. Big thanks to Jay Braun at Melody Lanes and all of the great musicians who came through to be a part of the mix! More to come, people - we're on our way!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heading back to the studio

So it's been a little while since I have taken some time to really get down in the studio and work on my own material, but I am finally heading back into the studio this weekend to put down some of the final tracks for what will be a full length album. Those who know me well and have been following my career for a while know that this has been a long time coming! The last few years have been something of an emotional roller coaster for me, and my plans have gotten derailed more than once. But now I am finally getting back on track and it's time to take this thing into overdrive and get it done!

I have been so blessed to have worked with so many great musicians and to have had so many wonderful musical experiences over the years, and I really want this new project to be a reflection of that experience. There will be some old favorites on there, for those who have been following the band for a while. There will be a few new tasty treats on there too.

One of the tracks I am really excited about is actually a reworking of an old song that I wrote back in the day when I used to be with a group called Dr. Smooth. It's got a serious party vibe, and I think that breathing new life into this old groove is going to really help a add a new dimension to the album and to live sets as well. I can't WAIT to get to play this one on stage!!

Also I am excited about a ballad I wrote called "Late Every Evening." I have performed the song live a few times and it always seems to go over really well. The track I produced for it has kind of a jazzy-neo-soul vibe to it, and I think it's going to compliment some of the funk-cookers I've got going on (every album needs at least ONE slow jam, right??)

There is a lot more I want to say about it, but I am going to wait until I've got a few more tracks in the can first. Don't wanna jinx myself!! Thank you all so much for your support, it means the world. Stay tuned for more updates soon!!

Peace and blessings,
Big Ben

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Dear Friends,

After taking a bit of a hiatus, BIG BEN and THE FAM are returning to NEW YORK CITY to perform at WICKED WILLY'S in the Village. Please come out and show your support for LIVE and LOCAL FUNK MUSIC!!! For more information call (212) 254-8592 or visit BIG BEN'S web site at


Check out this video I just posted on Youtube of the band jamming out on "It Must Have Been the Music" at THE SHINE in Harlem NYC back on 11 September 2010:

THE SHRINE is a great place to hear live music in the city. It's got a great atmosphere and there is never a cover charge!! You catch BIG BEN and THE ROYAL FAMILY over there on SATURDAY APRIL 9th, 2011 at 10pm.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


It's been quite some time since these two LOWELL NATIVES have come back to THE MILL CITY to perform together. BIG BEN HILLMAN the PROFESSOR of FUNK and his band THE ROYAL FAMILY will be joining the fabulous JEN KEARNEY and THE LOST ONION to throw down some serious FUNK and SOUL and show you what LOWELL PRIDE is all about.... DON'T MISS IT!!!!

105 Market St Lowell, MA
$10 cover, 21 plus only, 9 pm start time

Welcome to my new web site!!!

Hey everyone, well its a new year and its time to represent with some new music and a brand new web page! I have been using the myspace format for far too long, I figure it was time to update to something new. So I am spending a little time tweaking fonts and colors, adding photos and content. Please come back and visit often, as I will be posting some new music very soon. I am going to the studio on February 12th to work on some new vocal tracks, and plan to have a new release by the spring. I will of course be posting lots of pics and info here as soon as it is available. So please do come back and tell all your friends!!

Peace and blessings,
Big Ben