published Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Barking Legs hosts two-night memorial benefit for Dennis Palmer


Dennis Palmer, center foreground, and Bob Stagner, background right, were founding members of improvisational musical duo The Shaking Ray Levis, along with Ray Norwood, not pictured. Also in this 2003 photo are Frank Pahl, left, and Kenny Palmer.
Dennis Palmer, center foreground, and Bob Stagner, background right, were founding members of improvisational musical duo The Shaking Ray Levis, along with Ray Norwood, not pictured. Also in this 2003 photo are Frank Pahl, left, and Kenny Palmer.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: The Ever-Loving Astral Etheric Weekend for Dennis Palmer

When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 29, and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 30

Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

Admission: $10 in advance, $15 at the door Friday; $15 in advance, $20 at the door Saturday; $20 in advance for two-night admission

Phone: 423-624-5347

Website: www.barkinglegs.org

ABOUT DENNIS PALMER

Palmer was a nontraditional musician once referred to by Creative Loafing as "the world's most colorfully inventive synthesizer player." Along with percussionist Bob Stagner, he formed the improvisational musical duo The Shaking Ray Levis, the first American band to record on Britain's Incus Records.

Palmer co-founded and served as artistic director of nonprofit arts education organization The Shaking Ray Levi Society. A visual artist, his work was shown nationally and internationally.

On Feb. 15, Chattanooga lost a musical and artistic visionary with the passing of Shaking Ray Levi co-founder Dennis Palmer. This weekend, Barking Legs Theater is offering fans and artists who have been inspired by Palmer's decades-long career a chance to honor his legacy and carry on his work.

The Ever-Loving Astral Etheric Weekend will feature two nights of musical performances at Barking Legs Theater by artists who knew and collaborated with Palmer. Many live in the Southeast, but some are coming from as far away as Philadelphia and New York City. Every artist involved in the tribute volunteered their services without compensation.

Musicians from California to Britain expressed interest in performing. Even though they were unable to make the event, their support is a 10,000-mile testament to the breadth of Palmer's influence, says Barking Legs owner Bruce Kaplan.

"Within that world of freely improvised music, he was a major figure and brought a lot of recognition and even renown to Chattanooga," says Kaplan.

Kaplan credits friendship with Palmer and performing partner Bob Stagner for his and his wife's relocation to Chattanooga from New York City and the subsequent founding of their venue.

"He really changed the face of music in Chattanooga," he adds.

Palmer's friend and Shaking Ray Levis co-founder Bob Stagner says the outpouring of support from so many reflects his friend's lifelong commitment to changing perceptions of Chattanooga and its role in the arts world.

"He opened up a lot of minds," Stagner says. "He was all about creating an environment for new thought, and that's what we're experiencing."

All proceeds from the weekend will be used to complete work on three of Palmer's unfinished albums and to help make available 30 years of archival material of his own work and that of artists he helped bring to Chattanooga as artistic director of educational nonprofit The Shaking Ray Levi Society.

Each night also will incorporate visual artist elements, including brief archival videos between sets. Palmer also was a prolific, "highly imaginative" visual artist, Kaplan says, and some of his works will be available for sale as both prints and originals.

Stagner says he is touched by the number and diversity of supporters who have stepped up to honor his friend's life and work. That strength has been a boon in helping him come to terms with Palmer's passing, he says.

"He's just stepped out of the room right now," Stagner says. "He's smiling on this weekend. There are a lot of people who are smiling."

PERFORMERS

Friday

David Greenberger, Killick, Jill Burton, Bob Stagner, Kenny Palmer and Shani Hedden, Kofi Mawuko, Ann Law, Terry Fugate, Evan Lipson, Tim Hinck and Bruce Kaplan.

Saturday

Jack Wright, Davey Williams, LaDonna Smith, 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra, David Greenberger, Bob Stagner, Evan Lipson, Tyson Rogers, Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel.

Palmer was a nontraditional musician once referred to by Creative Loafing as "the world's most colorfully inventive synthesizer player." Along with percussionist Bob Stagner, he formed the improvisational musical duo The Shaking Ray Levis, the first American band to record on Britain's Incus Records.

Palmer co-founded and served as artistic director of nonprofit arts education organization The Shaking Ray Levi Society. A visual artist, his work was shown nationally and internationally.

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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