Benefit planned for Ky. flooding relief

A team of Cincinnatians with connections in Eastern Kentucky have organized a benefit to help flooding victims there.

“Hope for the Hills” will be Aug. 27 from 1-4 p.m., an afternoon of music, art and refreshments, all to benefit flood relief efforts. Proceeds will go to the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, a nonprofit foundation that has already launched individual emergency relief grants and small business loans, and CANE Kitchen, which is currently feeding hundreds of people a day out of its commercial kitchen in a transformed Whitesburg, Ky., high school.

Tickets start at $100 ($20 for students and minors under 21) and go as high as $5,000 for lead sponsorships.

“We wanted to act quickly to raise as much as we can because the need is so urgent,” said Paintsville, Ky., native and singer-songwriter Steve Saunders. “Then we learned Suzy DeYoung of LaSoupe and Michele Hobbs of Pet Wants and Knox Joseph Distillery at OTR Stillhouse had already been to the ravaged areas, witnessed the devastation and were eager to join with us.”

Steve Saunders

Within days, musicians and artists offered their support, LaSoupe signed on for food and the Stillhouse offered up its venue. Volunteers have stepped up to invite other restaurants and to make sure the event runs smoothly.

“We are confident that generous Cincinnatians recognize why we need to hurry with our help,” Saunders added. “Local water systems are damaged and destroyed, leaving thousands without clean water. Houses are washed away where there was already a housing shortage. Small businesses and farms are wiped out just as they were beginning to come out of the pandemic. Real recovery will take a long time, but basic needs are immediate.”

By Light We Loom headlines the afternoon. The 2019 Top Indie Band in Cleveland hasn’t played in Cincinnati since the pandemic. Steve Saunders ( is a singer-songwriter now living in Cincinnati and performing regionally in house concerts and listening rooms. He cut his teeth singing and playing, where he grew up in Eastern Kentucky and telling the entertaining stories behind his songs are hallmarks of his shows. Dan VanVechten ( and friends play bluegrass and folk originals and covers that are sure to please- and remind us of the rich Appalachian culture that has influenced genres from country to pop to rock and blues.

Artist Trace Deaton ( grew up in Northern Kentucky and currently lives in Georgetown, but 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. Deaton works in a variety of media, including photography, abstract painting, digital art and animation and video. He is also a talented guitarist and music video producer. Deaton has prepared a collection of his art to sell at this event, with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the relief effort and he will be present to sign purchases.

Malcolm J. Wilson ( of Blackey, KY is a passionate Appalachian who has made it his life’s work to capture the volumes that can be written in a smile, and the images that can be painted from the palette of a tall tale. By day, the seasoned photographer, web designer, marketer and educator helps the region’s premier businesses expand their marketing reach through well-developed marketing and advertising campaigns. After-hours and on weekends, he dons his camera holster and recorder and sets out for points unknown 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 LaSoupe and two tickets for OTR Stillhouse wine or beer. LaSoupe ( is a food rescue kitchen with a chef-based model that utilizes a volunteer network to rescue perishables from farms, grocers and wholesalers. Founder Suzy DeYoung, an award-winning chef herself, and members of her team have delivered over 3,000 pounds of food to CANE (Community Agricultural Nutritional Enterprises, Inc) Kitchen ( in Whitesburg, KY and worked with its staff and volunteers to feed hundreds of families affected by the flood. CANE Kitchen is dedicated to small farm sustainable agriculture and healthy foods. Due to likely flood water contamination of fields, no produce from this year’s crop will be usable.

OTR Stillhouse at the Knox Joseph Distillery, one of the first distilleries to open in Over-the -Rhine since Prohibition, is a rare combination public house, entertainment venue and a distillery, crafting clean gin, spicy whiskey, and smooth bourbon. It is a certified winery and small craft brewery. Founder Michele Hobbs, a native of Letcher County, Ky., is a visionary who discovered the property she owned was once home to an ice manufacturing company. From that knowledge, the idea to tap into the aquifer below hatched the venue. Since the flood, Hobbs has secured hundreds of grills and cooking charcoal for her neighbors back home. The Stillhouse is donating use of the venue and more to create more “Hope for the Hills.”

Tickets are available at

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