Still on the Hill

"The creativity and originality of these two blows through the stale air of singer-songwriters like a gale of genius."

Rich Warren, Sing Out! magazine

About Us

Seemingly oblivious to the limitations of what two musicians can create, Still on the Hill has set new boundaries of originality. This duo uses traditional instruments from their home in the Ozarks (mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica and scrub board) and other oddities such as the musical saw, ukelin and tenor uke to create a kaleidoscope of musical color and texture:

"These musicians have grafted the wild climbing vines of bluegrass, folk, classical and mountain music onto the hardiest of Ozark rootstock. The result is a yet-to-be-named hybrid music that simply compels people to stop and listen, to pause in their hectic lives and pay attention to something they've never heard before. It's magic, and there's simply not enough magic in the world today.

Visually, Still on the Hill is full of color and motion; instrumentally, they command their instruments with power and grace, producing a sound that is both fresh and ancient at the same time; lyrically, their original material is packed with new ideas, social awareness and a level of intellect and consciousness that's seldom found in contemporary tunes.

Still on the Hill are the consummate professionals, whether they're performing for an audience of one or for thousands. Their high-energy show seems to emerge from somewhere deep inside their souls. They play music for one reason: it's a spark, or maybe a raging bonfire, inside each of them that has to come out, something that's shared just as easily with a large festival audience as it would be with a quiet Ozark forest."

Julie Koehler, Bluegrass Now

Still on the Hill has proved itself a favorite at many prestigious festivals and venues here and abroad, including the Kerrville Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kansas (in 2005, the duo took over the role of organizing and hosting Walnut Valley's NewSongs Showcase, an event that has been popular at the festival for almost two decades) and countless others. Their own region, the Ozarks, has voted them the “Best Folk Band” for several years running, and the mayor of their town, Fayetteville, Arkansas, proclaimed Dec. 20 th Still on the Hill Day for all the work the duo does in community service. They have produced seven widely acclaimed CD's (two as a foursome) and three years ago they signed with Swiss record label Brambus Records for the European release of their CD “Chaos & Calm”.



Here's What Folks Are Saying
About Still On The Hill
"The creativity and originality of these two blows through the stale air of singer-songwriters like a gale of genius" - Rich Warren, SING OUT! magazine

" If we ever lose power in Northwest Arkansas, we could tap into the energy of Still on the Hill and have enough left to air condition Texas!!!" - Keith and Ezra from TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA

"Like a folk Cirque Du Soleil..." - David Wilcox, Singer/songwriter

"Wow, you guys are like two blueberries in a patch of raspberries! (and I like blueberries)" - Taylor Henschell - (Donna's 13 year old son)

Biographies

Donna Stjerna grew up in New York and California and began playing the fiddle with her dad in the family kitchen at age 12. He took her to see Country Western star Eddie Arnold sing the “Cattle Call” back then and there was a female ‘fiddler' in the show. At that moment, Donna knew she too wanted to be up on the stage. She began playing in honky-tonks in her early teens and toured the country with her dad, fiddling at night and helping him paint signs during the day. Donna joined a country show band at 19 and played the Reno/Vegas circuit for many years. It was there that she learned the art of showmanship and giving 100% of herself to the audience. She still embraces that philosophy today.

For the next twenty years, Donna played Top 40 cover tunes in a multitude of bands and was never even aware of the world of original music out there until she met Kelly Mulhollan in a recording studio in 1994. She had written a handful of songs over the years but they were never well received by the bands she worked in because the folks they played for wanted to dance to songs that were familiar and that they knew from AM radio.

Kelly and Donna helped form the original quartet version of Still on the Hill to explore their own music. When the group was just a few months old they ventured down to the Kerrville Folk Festival where Donna became a “born again” musician! A floodgate opened and songs began spilling out of her. With over 400 songs to her credit, Donna has become an accomplished and much loved songwriter. She especially likes to write songs in the folk tradition of spurring social change through music.

But even more than being a songwriter and musician, Donna is a mother. She has a teenage son named Taylor, whom she and Kelly home schooled on the road for many years. She is so excited to watch him take a shine to the guitar and writing his own songs. Passing her love of music on to a new generation is one of her greatest joys along with sharing her songs.

Kelly Mulhollan, born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was a ukulele fiend by the age of nine and quickly graduated to the guitar a year later, followed by the banjo. He was drawn to music like a magnet and he seemed to be able to find his way around any stringed instrument he laid his hands on. He dabbled in classical guitar from his teens and into college but it never really took hold. It did however instill a profound knowledge and appreciation of that art form which continues to be a strong influence on him today. A veteran of countless bands, the 1970's found Kelly playing rock & roll, bluegrass, jazz, progressive rock and folk music. His musical taste always drifted towards the eclectic and pushed him further and further from the mainstream.

After exploring the west coast in his 20's, Kelly returned to the Ozarks feeling a strong need to recapture a sliver of his cultural heritage amidst the backdrop of a generic television-driven culture. (Kelly and Donna don't own TV's). Combining this quest with a desire to contribute to the tradition, not just re-enact it, he became a founding member of the quartet Still on the Hill in 1994. This band was the perfect vehicle for him to make his vision of acoustic music with a cultural link to the Ozarks a reality.

Kelly is a powerful instrumentalist. He has been voted Best Guitarist in Northwest Arkansas several times and has developed a one-of-a-kind style of fingerpicking for the banjo and mandolin. Kelly is also an accomplished studio technician. He has produced and performed on CD's for many other singer/songwriters as well as producing all of Still on the Hill's recordings. He recently released a solo CD of poetry set to his own music which has received rave reviews.

It would be remiss to tell of Kelly's musical endeavors without some mention of his longtime commitment to issues of peace, justice and ecology. It is at the heart of everything he does.

When asked, Kelly doesn't long for the grand commercial success that so many musicians aspire to. He says, “I just want to grow, change, and create something of beauty… always.”