Musicians, artists, chefs, and a distillery team up to raise funds for eastern Kentucky flood relief

Paintsville, Ky native and singer-songwriter Steve Saunders, felt helpless watching what’s been called “one of the most significant and deadly floods” to hit the state of Kentucky. The flooding began at the end of July and a state of emergency is still in effect for eastern Kentucky.

“As a native of eastern Kentucky, I feel compelled to do something and have heard from many musicians and artists who want to join with me,” said Saunders.

Saunders has teamed up with chef Suzy DeYoung of La Soupe and Michele Hobbs, proprietor of Knox Joseph Distillery at OTR Stillhouse to present “Hope for the Hills,” a fundraiser this Saturday, August 27 from 1pm - 4pm.

La Soupe founder Suzy DeYoung, and members of her team, have delivered over 3,000 pounds of food to CANE Kitchen in Whitesburg, KY and worked with their staff and volunteers to feed hundreds of families affected by the flood.

OTR Stillhouse at the Knox Joseph Distillery is one of the first distilleries to open in Over-the-Rhine since Prohibition crafting clean gin, spicy whiskey, and smooth bourbon. Founder Michele Hobbs is a native of Letcher County, KY. The Stillhouse is donating use of the venue and more to create more “Hope for the Hills.”

“Suzy and Michele, who also has family impacted by the flooding, deployed to the area quickly to help feed people. Having seen the devastation firsthand, they were eager to help me organize an event for the Cincinnati community,” says Saunders.

The event will raise money for the nonprofit Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, which has created individual emergency relief grants and small business loans, and CANE Kitchen, which is still feeding hundreds of people every day from a commercial kitchen inside a Whitesburg high school. 

Saturday’s event features music, art, food, and drink including:

By Light We Loom - the 2019 top Indie band in Cleveland is the headliner. They have appeared at Bunbury and MidPoint Music Festival. This is their first appearance in Cincinnati since the pandemic.

Steve Saunders is a singer-songwriter now living in Cincinnati and performing regionally in house concerts and listening rooms sharing entertaining stories behind his songs that are hallmarks of his shows. He cut his teeth singing and playing where he grew up in eastern Kentucky.  

Dan Van Vechten and friends will play toe-tapping bluegrass and folk originals.

Trace Deaton grew up in Northern Kentucky, now lives in Georgetown and tracks his family roots to eastern Kentucky. He is an award-winning photographer and artist who has an eye for extraordinary images found in everyday life. Trace has prepared a collection of his art to sell at this event, with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the relief effort.

Malcolm J. Wilson of Blackey, KY is a passionate Appalachian who has made it his life’s work to gather the honest and compelling stories that are helping to shatter the generations-old stereotypes of Appalachian people and culture. He documented the powerful first days of the devastation and his first-hand photos will be running on screens throughout the venue.

Admission includes food prepared by La Soupe, The Pub at Rookwood, Out of Thyme, and Mighty Good OTR plus two tickets for OTR Stillhouse wine or beer.

To purchase tickets and get more information visit 
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Read more articles by Patrice Watson.

Patrice Watson is publisher of Soapbox Cincinnati and Hub Springfield. Follow her on Twitter @patricewatson10.