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'AETN Presents' to feature folk artists Still on the Hill Friday

“AETN Presents: On the Front Row With Still on the Hill” will premiere Friday, Nov. 4, at 6:30 p.m. on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN).

“AETN Presents: On the Front Row” is part of AETN Arts Fridays, featuring world class arts and culture programming and locally produced series.

Hailing from the Ozarks, Still on the Hill features a unique brand of Arkansan “folkgrass.” The accomplished multi-instrumental and 2010 Governor’s Arts Award-winning duo of Kelly Mullhollan and Donna Stjerna has produced seven albums since 2001. The group’s repertoire is primarily their own original compositions interspersed with new arrangements of traditional songs.
Still on the Hill performs songs from their newest CD, “Ozark: A Celebration in Song.” The project was born out of their travels in the Ozarks and from collecting song ideas from their audiences during their performances. Mullhollan and Stjerna write about the amazing folks and places they know and love with the belief that the unsung heroes of the Ozarks best reflect what makes the hills distinctive. They hope that by telling their stories in song, they will be nurturing an ongoing tradition.

“AETN Presents: On the Front Row With Still on the Hill” will repeat Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m.

Additionally, “Ozark: A Celebration in Song,” a 60-minute documentary about the duo, will air Nov. 4 at 11 p.m. The film is a mixture of storytelling, interviews and song produced by Jones Television in Springdale with support from a grant from the Arkansas Department of Heritage.

The story of the song “Devil Snake” is featured in the film. Violet Hensley from Yellville, Ark., who was voted an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council, caves fiddles and puts a rattlesnake rattle in each one. She said her mother told her that the fiddle was the devil's instrument and the rattle would keep him away.

Another song described is about a young ex-slave, Willie, who was found by a Confederate soldier on his way home to Snowball, Ark. The soldier taught Willie how to be a stone mason, and Willie helped to build much of the town of Snowball.

Also Nov. 4 at 9 p.m. will be PBS Arts from the Blue Ridge Mountains “Give Me the Banjo.” Narrated by Steve Martin, a banjoist himself, the film explores the roots of American music – the minstrel show, ragtime and early jazz, blues, old-time, folk, bluegrass and country. It is a story of America’s quintessential musical instrument from its African slavery roots to the 21st century, featuring performances and commentary from contemporary folk musicians such as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, as well as from leading music historians, instrument builders and collectors. Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash hosts. “Give Me the Banjo” is produced and directed by Marc Fields with Michael Kantor as executive producer. Tony Trischka is co-producer and music director. The evening’s presentation is in collaboration with PBS member station UNC-TV (North Carolina).

“Roots music is very much a part of our soul, part of who we are,” Jonathan Trawick, CEO of Fiddlin Arkansas, said. “Knowing our heritage and where we came from is very important – [it] shapes us as human beings.
“And, understanding where the banjo came from, where the fiddle came from, there's so much to be learned. If we don't plug into where this music is coming from, I believe we'll lose a lot.”

AETN Arts Fridays delivers world class arts and culture programming to viewers. The locally produced arts and culture series “AETN Presents,” featuring Arkansas authors and bands, airs at 6:30 p.m., and the unprecedented PBS Arts Fall Festival airs at 9 p.m. More information about AETN Arts Fridays and the PBS Arts Fall Festival, including previews, is available at www.aetn.org/aetnartsfridays.

“AETN Presents” features a variety of arts and cultural subjects. Previously included in the series have been the Arkansas Acoustic Festival; performances by the Cate Brothers, Trout Fishing in America, Dale Hawkins, Wayland Holyfield and Friends, Shannon Boshears Band and Epiphany; and “On the Same Page” with authors Buzz Bissinger, Billy Collins, John T. Edge and Kenneth L. Smith.

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