History Set To Music

History Set To Music

Mulhollans debut new ‘Cane Hill’ album


Mollie discovered she was an artist, back when women weren’t anything but wives, mothers and farm hands.

Cousin Annie grew apples that were the best in the county.

Doc Bean cared for patients — even if they didn’t have any way to pay.

Algie Braly found a family after his ride on the Orphan Train.

A tiny metal charm tells the story of one student’s devotion to his teacher.

And a bell finds new life in Cane Hill — as do these stories captured in new songs written and recorded by Kelly and Donna Mulhollan, better known as the duo Still on the Hill.

The new album debuts this weekend at the Walton Arts Center, but “Cane Hill” will be presented through March in a series of concerts funded by Historic Cane Hill. The idea, says Kelly Mulhollan, is to raise interest in the western Washington County community that’s currently in the middle of a renaissance.

Founded in 1827, Cane Hill was the earliest settlement in Washington County and was considered the educational and cultural center of the region, boasting the first college in the state to admit women, the first public school, the first library and the first Sunday school. Later, it was known for its bumper crops of apples, its water-powered grist mill and the making of sorghum during the annual harvest festival.

But it wasn’t until 2013 that passionate historians started to renovate some of the landmark buildings in the community listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Shaker Yates Grocery Store became the Historic Cane Hill Museum, and the community set out on a quest to be seen — and now heard — for its history.

The new CD is the fourth of its kind for the Mulhollans, who also captured the history of the region on a 2008 CD titled “Ozark: Celebration in Song,” followed by “Once a River: Story Songs About the Beaver Lake Watershed,” then “Still a River: Story Songs of the Buffalo River.” To tell the tales of Cane Hill, the Mulhollans received funding to follow the previous template: the recording of a full-length CD and 13 concerts, all free to the public, with 100 CDs to give away at each performance.

The biggest challenge, Kelly Mulhollan says, was holding his wife back so they could finish their research. A prolific songwriter, she was ready to go as soon as she saw the first artifacts in the museum and completed the first oral interviews.

The result, Donna Mulhollan says, was a “much more collaborative” creation.

“Kelly is an amazing editor,” she enthuses. “This time, I gave him what was coming through to me, raw, and he worked his magic.”

“We have very different strengths,” Kelly adds. “So it always goes pretty smoothly.”

A tight timetable did create an interesting challenge for the couple, who have been making music together for 23 years.

“We recorded the songs in our own studio, with Kelly playing all the instruments,” Donna says. “Now we have to learn them and decide how we play them as a duo.

“Some bands just keep doing the same songs. We seem to re-invent the wheel over and over again.”



‘Cane Hill’

Debut Concert

WHEN — 4 p.m. Oct. 7

WHERE — Walton Arts Center’s Starr Theater in Fayetteville

COST — Sold out; the next concert is Nov. 9 at the Eureka Springs Folk Festival

INFO — stillonthehill.com



‘Cane Hill’

Upcoming Concerts

Among upcoming performances are:

Nov. 9 — Eureka Springs Folk Festival

Dec. 15 — Lyric Theater in Harrison

Jan. 19 — Shiloh Museum in Springdale

Jan. 20 — Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla.

Feb. 2 — Bentonville Public Library

March 2 — Rogers Historical Museum

INFO — stillonthehill.com

Categories: Family Friendly