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'Still on the Hill' brings taste of the Osarks to NY Mills

Donna Stjerna and Kelly Mulhollan make up the folkgrass duo, Still on the Hill, which performed Saturday night at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center.1 / 3
A collection of some hand-made instruments the duo used throughout the performance at the cultural center.2 / 3
Donna Stjerna plays the fiddle above her head while engaging the audience during Saturday's performance.3 / 3

New York Mills got a little taste Saturday night of the Osarks and folkgrass music. Still on the Hill, a duo of Arkansas musicians, performed at the NY Mills Regional Cultural Center.

Since 2001, the Ozarkian duo of Kelly Mulhollan and Donna Stjerna has toured steadily and produced six CDs. Both Kelly and Donna are accomplished songwriters and play a plethora of acoustic instruments, including acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and harmonica.

The group's repertoire is primarily their own original, roots-based compositions (a genre hybrid they term "folkgrass") interspersed with new arrangements of traditional songs. The twosome has also created several very popular children's shows and educational workshops which they perform under the name Toucan Jam.

Still on the Hill entertained the New York Mills audience with songs like "Ode to Mr. Boze," and "Otis & Ocie," by way of lyrics, photos and stories.

For over 10 years, Still on the Hill has been bringing the stories of folks they've met in the Ozarks to life through song. Often during concert the duo asks the audience to tell about any amazing characters in their area that need their stories told.

About the artists:

Kelly Mulhollan was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and his passion for stringed instruments began at the age of 9 with a gift of a ukulele. Within two years he had added the guitar and banjo to his credits. The 70's and 80's found Kelly in countless bands playing rock & roll, bluegrass, jazz, progressive rock, and folk music while studying contemporary classical music, and still always composing and performing his original work as well. He was a founding member of the original Still on the Hill quartet in 1994. He has been voted "Best Guitarist" several times by the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards and also contributes mandolin, banjo, harmonica, lead vocals and songwriting to the group. Kelly has recorded and produced all of the Still on the Hill CDs, as well as performing on and producing many other artists' CDs.

Donna Stjerna grew up in New York and California and began playing the fiddle at the age of 12 after being taken to see the "lady fiddler" in the Eddie Arnold show. As a teenager, she played and toured the country with her father, a professional country musician, playing fiddle at night and helping him to paint signs during the day.

Before helping to form the original Still on the Hill quartet in 1994, Donna worked steadily playing and singing in a number of nationally touring country bands. She is a highly prolific songwriter with over 400 songs to her credit and has been the band's principal songwriter since they became a duo in 2001. In addition to playing the fiddle, Donna contributes lead vocals, mandolin, cello, and a variety of traditional roots-based instruments to the sound that is Still on the Hill. She is the mother of a teenage son, Taylor.