BY MELANIE WADE –
The Buffalo River National Park Service is bringing Still on the Hill, one of Arkansas’ most beloved folk duos to Ouachita Little Theatre ‘on Sunday afternoon, November 19th at 2:30 p.m. Still on the Hill will be performing their show, ‘Still a River,’ that celebrates the nation’s first historic river in song. The concert is free and the first 100 attendees will receive a free copy of their CD.
Still on the Hill is the duo of Donna and Kelly Mulhollan, recipients of the Arkansas Governor’s Folk Life Award. They are modern-day bards, carrying on the ancient tradition of storytelling in song. This duo has often been called Ambassadors of the Ozarks for their decades of work preserving the stories of people and places in the hills they have called home for over twenty years.
Still on the Hill unveiled a project a year ago and performed fifteen concerts in the Northwest Arkansas region. The first phase of the project funded by the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, The Ozark Society, and the community at large was a rousing success. The National Park Service is providing funds to extend the project with an additional 10 Still a River concerts (and CD giveaway) in areas of the state not yet served by this project.
“We looked on the map and saw Mena and wanted to make sure we covered it,” said Donna Mulhollan on why the local theatre was chosen as a destination on their continued tour.
The Mulhollan’s are consummate musicians and multi-instrumentalists. In all of their shows, they play a plethora of instruments, many of which were created by Ozark instrument makers. Along with their core instruments such as banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, you will hear oddities such as toy bells, a Hardanger fiddle built by Elliot Smith (who is 93 years old), a dulcimer built from a fiddle case, and even a musical saw.
The songs that make up ‘Still a River’ document little known stories of well-known landmarks along the Buffalo River. Bee Bluff, Sam’s Throne, Tyler Bend, Granny Henderson’s cabin, the zinc mine at Rush Creek, and more come to life in original songs written by Still on the Hill.
A picture paints 1,000 words and so Still on the Hill creatively uses entertaining, tongue-in-cheek visuals to punctuate their story-songs. They call it their ‘low tech power point’, which is simply a collection of Donna’s handmade photo quilts with images depicting the people and places they sing about.
“Still a River poignantly reminds us of what we cherish about our nation’s first historic national river. It invites us, as the river’s stewards, to protect the sights and sounds that nourish us,” said Donna.