Hilltop News' 1998 debut release opened a new medium for them to put out the Christian message. Before this they had been playing churches, local festivals, and community gatherings. One of the bands most interesting features is the use of the hammered dulcimer by John Rittenhouse, who is also the bands lead singer. He started playing the hammered dulcimer in 1993, as a result of hearing it played in Smoky Mountain Hymns.He felt it took bluegrass in a different direction, so he taught himself how to play the instrument. John Rittenhouse is joined by his sister, Eunice Landis on rhythm guitar and mandolin, who has been playing since 1991.In 1992 Paul Good and Steve Rivera joined the band.Paul Good brings his lead guitar talents to Hilltop News, and Steve Rivera, a local music teacher, plays banjo and mandolin. All four members share the same passion of spreading the message of God's love through bluegrass music.In 1999 they could be found performing everywhere from prisons and churches to truck stops and banquet halls.
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