Sad news came yesterday when word spread that Dennis Palmer of the Shaking Ray Levis died Friday night. A life-long resident of Chattanooga, Tenn., Palmer, 55, was dedicated to playing and raising awareness about the possibilities of free, improvised music for both listeners and performers. While playing synthesizer for decades alongside percussionist Bob Stagner, Palmer also worked with a long list of collaborators that includes the Rev. Howard Finster, guitarists Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, and Eugene Chadbourne, the Duplex Planet editor David Greenberger, Borbetomagus, John Zorn, and Col. Bruce Hampton, just to name a few.
Since 1986 the Shaking Ray Levi Society has functioned as a quintessential advocate for the arts in Chattanooga, bringing a diverse array of music to town, including Anthony Braxton, Cat Power, the Olivia Tremor Control, and Laurie Anderson.
Among Palmer’s most recent activity, the Shaking Ray Levis will be featured on a handful of songs on Duet For Theremin & Lap Steel’s forthcoming CD, Collaborations. There’s also a forthcoming David Greenberger and the SRLs CD, titled Tramps That Go Think In the Night, and a collaboration with vocalist Shelley Hirsch. Palmer was also finishing up a solo album titled White Wuf.
• Shaking Ray Levis: http://www.shakingray.com