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Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

“It’s all about the people!”

Red River Revel 2021 Preview

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Red River Revel 2021 Preview

Even though she’s lived in New Orleans the last few years, singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish hasn’t been to Shreveport since 2014. That’s when she recorded the bulk of the album “Wild Heart” at Blade Studios.

“I stayed there at least a good week,” Fish said from the Nashville, Tenn., airport. She was headed to Minneapolis to open for ZZ Top the following night. “I have good memories of Shreveport. I spent a good chunk of my time in the studio, but I did check out some of the riverboat stuff … I also ate at a few nice restaurants. But, of course, most of my time was spent in the studio.”

Fish will return to Shreveport Thursday, Oct. 7, when she performs at the 45th Red River Revel.

“I’m really, really excited to be performing for everybody up there. I love the city.”

Fish is one of the Revel’s headliners who, along with other musicians, will take the stage Oct. 2-10 at Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport. Gates open at 11 a.m. each day. Admission is free all day Monday and Tuesday-Friday until 5:30 p.m. All other days and times, tickets are $5. You can also buy a nine-day Reveler Pass for $10. Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult and military and first responders are admitted free every day.

“It’s going to be electric,” Fish said of her show. “It’s going to be really raw. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be energetic. I’m going to try and reach into people’s hearts and connect with them. Let ’em cut loose. Let ’em have fun. That’s what we’re all there for.”

Because of Covid restrictions, no one was “there” last year the first time since 1976 there wasn’t a Revel. However, absence may have made the heart grow fonder.

“What we have heard from the public, the artists, vendors and musicians is that they’re excited to get back,” said Michael Ostendorff, president of the Red River Revel Governing Board. “This makes them feel like they are getting back to a sense of normalcy, recognizing that Covid is not going to go away tomorrow, but we have to adapt our lives to be able to put on events like the Red River Revel in a changing environment with the pandemic still taking place.”

Because of the pandemic, expect to see fewer artists than in years past. Ostendorff said some have had to go back to working fulltime. There also won’t be quite as many food vendors. However, none of that will change what the Revel means to Shreveport, Bossier City and the Ark-La-Tex.

“The Revel’s core mission and core value is a celebration of the arts encompassing food, visual, performing and music,” Ostendorff said. “That’s what we really want to have.”

For the past 12 years, Lake Charles artist Candice Alexander has set up shop at the Revel. She could sense excitement building for this year’s event as far back as May when she had a booth at the Mudbug Madness festival.

“We had record-breaking days, and I had a recordbreaking festival,” Alexander said. “In my whole 20 years as an artist, Shreveport showed up!

People showed up! We couldn’t fill the walls with my art, it was selling so fast. We would Velcro the prints without frames on the wall. It was insane!” Alexander was so optimistic about this year’s Revel, and she offered to design the event’s official poster.

“I wanted it to have a lot of movement,” Alexander said. “A lot of excitement. If you look at the bottom, there’s the light in the reflection of the bridge. There’s music. There’s food, there’s art. I wanted to make a really vibrant, exciting poster that mimics the excitement we felt in Shreveport in May at the Mudbug festival.”

Even with the artists and musicians, the Revel wouldn’t be the Revel without food. In addition to the traditional hamburger, hot dog, nachos, Natchitoches meat pies and funnel cakes, you will find something new: B and J’s catering will offer “a gourmet assortment of different styles of macaroni and cheese,” Ostendorff said.

“She does a phenomenal seafood macaroni and cheese, and a bolognese over macaroni and cheese. That is definitely going to be a highlight.”

And you won’t have to bust the family budget to eat. While the price of beer will go up $1 (Ostendorff said it’s the first beer price increase in more than 20 years), all food at the Revel will cost $10 or less.

“If you overprice one area, such as food and drink, that takes away from the amount of money (people) will be able to spend on the vendors, and the artists are kind of what makes the Revel possible.”

Those artists will feature their work across 14 areas, such as wood making, oil, acrylics, jewelry, and ceramic and pottery.

“It’s the clients,” Alexander said, as to why she keeps renting a Revel booth. “It’s the time of the year. The show goes on, rain or shine the clients get excited and welcome us. That’s why I keep coming back. It’s because of the people.”

When Fish takes the stage, you will likely hear music from her new album, “Faster.” Fish’s music is a mix of blues, pop, rock and soul. Her style has been influenced by living in New

Orleans, where she moved from Kansas City four and a half years ago.

While not every musician at this year’s Revel is from Louisiana, the entertainment will definitely have a Louisiana flavor.

“There are many times where we pull talent from across the nation even globally,” Ostendorff said. “This year, we wanted to give musicians, given the pandemic, the opportunity to showcase their talents. With other festivals, like Jazz Fest, being canceled, they can showcase here. And they have such a strong following here locally, we wanted to give that back to our community.”

In addition to the music, the Revel will have for the first time a Step Show competition between area college fraternities and sororities.

“The stepping is a choregraphed movement where they’re incorporating their hands, clapping and stomping, and turning that into almost a musical performance,” Ostendorff said.

A staple of the Revel, art programming designed for fourth-grade students, will return. However, it will move back to RiverView Hall after a couple of years away because of renovations.

“The sooner you can expose people’s children to the arts … it’s going to pique an interest inside them,” Ostendorff said. “Maybe they say, ‘I like that song. Maybe I ought to take piano lessons or guitar lessons. Maybe I want to learn oil painting or woodworking. Maybe I’ve tasted some of the best food I’ve ever had down here at the Revel, and I want to try and make that at home.’ They can take that experience across all the programming and incorporate it into their lives.”

To learn more about this year’s Revel, you may visit www.redriverrevel.com.

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