Susan Alcorn, Evan Lipson, Bob Stagner, Barking Legs, Oct. 1

Shaking Ray Levi Society 30-year retrospective, Apothecary, Oct. 15-19

Shaking Ray Levis on cover of Signal to Noise

Founded in 1986, the Shaking Ray Levi Society is a volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit arts education organization.

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The mission of the Shaking Ray Levi Society is to nurture and support music, film, and performance art that is challenging, non-traditional, and falls outside the mainstream, in order to help nourish the cultural growth of Chattanooga.

This is done by sponsoring shows by artists recognized on a national and international level, supporting original work by area musicians and filmmakers, and engaging the community through workshops and educational outreach programs.

"Only in our country are our children not receiving the benefits of the dynamic energies taking place in our culture and in the heritage of our culture and so, the work of the Shaking Ray Levi Society in my opinion is very important because they are seeking to provide an alternative to the marketplace dynamics." - composer, saxophonist and MacArthur fellowship recipient Anthony Braxton (video)

"SRLS is a very sound organization that has made a strong contribution to Chattanooga over the years" - Dr. Thomas Wolf, WolfBrown

The SRLS is a funded agency of ArtsBuild



CoPAC and the Shaking Ray Levi Society present:

Susan Alcorn - pedal steel guitar innovator
Evan Lipson
Bob Stagner

Thursday, October 1, 2015, 7:30 PM
Barking Legs Theater
1307 Dodds Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37404
$10 door

One of the world’s premiere musical innovators on her instrument, Baltimore-based Susan Alcorn has taken the pedal steel guitar far beyond its traditional role in country and western swing music. Known among steel guitarists for her virtuosity and authenticity in a traditional context, Alcorn first paid her dues in Texas country & western bands. Soon she began to expand the vocabulary of her instrument through her study of modern classical music (Messiaen, Varèse, Penderecki), the deep listening of Pauline Oliveros, free jazz and world musics (Indian ragas, South American songs and gamelan orchestra).

Alcorn’s pieces reveal the complexity of her instrument and her musical experience while never straying from a very direct, intense, and personal musical expression. Her latest critically acclaimed album, Soledad, explores the music of Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla.

“Beautiful, glassy and liquid, however far [Alcorn] strays from pulse and conventional harmony.” - The Guardian

“Employing pedal steel in an experimental-music context might sound like a gimmick, but a performance by Susan Alcorn will easily silence skeptics. Alcorn’s improvisations use the instrument’s uniquely liquid sound to gorgeously poetic effect.” - Time Out New York

Evan Lipson has operated as a musician since adolescence—intuitively seeking the liminal zones in which intellect and instinct, history and myth, and creative and destructive force intersect. Drawn towards aberrant perspectives at an early age, his formative experiences were primarily rooted in extreme and often discordant forms of rock, improvised music, modernist composition, jazz, outsider pop, soundtracks, and noise. Lipson is currently active with Normal Love and WREST. Recently, he has written music for several films as well as a new collaboration with David Greenberger, Amanda Cagle, and Bob Stagner of the Shaking Ray Levis. Past units include Satanized, Dynamite Club, Psychotic Quartet, Femme Tops and the Weasel Walter Trio. Lipson has performed throughout North America, as well as Brazil, Taiwan and Japan. His music has been released on several imprints including SKiN GRAFT, UgEXPLODE, High Two, Public Eyesore, Badmaster, Caminante, New Atlantis and Damage Rituals.

Bob Stagner is the only artist to have ever performed with both Dolly Parton and Derek Bailey. He is a percussionist, teacher, speaker and leader in arts advocacy for over 25 years. He co-founded the free improvisation duo, The Shaking Ray Levis, and the Shaking Ray Levi Society, an arts education organization that supports emerging artists in performance, art and film. He is the Southeast director of The Rhythmic Arts Project that provides music workshops for people with physical and mental disabilities. He has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists, including Derek Bailey, Rev. Howard Finster, Wayne White, Bob Dorough, Fred Frith, Min Tanaka, Amy Denio, Shelley Hirsch, and John Zorn.

The UTC Art Department and the Shaking Ray Levi Society present:

Shaking Ray Levi Society 30-year Retrospective Exhibition

October 15-19, 2015
744 McCallie Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37403
free admission

Kicking off a year-long celebration, commemorating the 30-year history of the Shaking Ray Levi Society (and roughly bookended by the Oct. 13 birthdays of SRLS co-founder Dennis Palmer), this multi-media retrospective exhibition will document the diverse work the SRLS has presented, highlighting its prescient, inventive spirit and fruitful collaborations within the Chattanooga community and beyond. The exhibition will provide a rare glimpse at archival materials including poster art and footage never before released to the public.

It is with our deepest sorrow at the Shaking Ray Levi Society that we have learned of the passing of Rev. Terry Fugate on February 13, 2015, who was the first treasurer of the Shaking Ray Levi Society and a co-founder.

We will have strong memories of Terry's infinite kindness, great musical talents, intelligence and rare insight. Terry is a former pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Brunswick, Georgia and an early member of the Shaking Ray Levis performing group.

Times Free Press obit
Chattanooga Funeral Home obit

The Shaking Ray Levi Society is greatly saddened by the loss of Julian Ray Norwood on February 16, 2014, who was a co-founder and the first president of The Shaking Ray Levi Society.

Julian will be remembered for his remarkable energy and passion for the arts, generosity, and persistence to challenge the SRLS and others in meaningful, illuminating ways.

Times Free Press obit
Shawn Chapman Funeral Home obit

Funeral Service for Julian Norwood
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Visitation: 12 PM
Service: 1 PM
Shawn Chapman Funeral Home
2362 Highway 76
Chatsworth, GA 30705


The work of the Shaking Ray Levi Society was praised in the latest VSA TN (Very Special Arts) newsletter:

"VSA Tennessee teaching artist, Bob Stagner, recently completed an artist residency at the Dawn School in Chattanooga involving studying the relationship between music and architecture. In this residency, the students first had to comprehend two art forms, then begin to understand advanced concepts for sound formation and structures, and build a vocabulary with a variety of percussion instruments. The students worked in groups with electronic devises and building models as well as with a variety of percussion instruments. The stories below are shared by the teaching artist with the permission of the students and their families:

Adeline is a 6th grader at Dawn School with severe depression and learning disabilities. She’s a delicate, soft spoken young lady who rarely talks above a whisper and remains part of the woodwork in most classes. Our workshop included architectural city shapes and their sound wave counterparts. Adeline created wave forms using two Moog devices, one for constant sound, the other for tone manipulation: vibrato, tempo, rate, pitch, and frequency.  The result was a dynamic shift in her mood as she turned each dial to a new setting to match our cityscape of over 15 models. Her smile showed pure joy as she retained the concept and gained control of understanding wave/sound shape and an architectural shape.

Victor is 6th grader at Dawn School with Autism. His speech therapist felt our project would be ideal to encourage speech. After our 1st week, it was clear he would retain the exercises and gain confidence. Victor’s mother has remarked how excited her son was to be a valued group member. He has also shown more focus with tasks/lessons at home. Victor seemed very proud of new skills and has proved to be a strong class leader.

Funding provided by a grant through the VSA offices of the John F Kennedy Center for the Arts and the Tennessee Department of Education."

We at the Shaking Ray Levi Society are deeply saddened by the passing of Dennis Palmer, SRLS co-founder and artistic director for over 26 years, on February 15, 2013.

Dennis Palmer

Chattanooga native Dennis Palmer, 55, was a beloved musician, visual artist, storyteller, educator, mentor, and devoted friend of many.

A singular vocalist and nontraditional musician, called "the world's most colorfully inventive synthesizer player" by Creative Loafing, he co-founded the acclaimed free improvisation group The Shaking Ray Levis with drummer Bob Stagner in 1986, which was the first American band to record an album for the legendary British label Incus Records. Palmer has performed internationally with collaborators including Derek Bailey, Steve Beresford, Reverend Howard Finster, David Greenberger, Col. Bruce Hampton, Shelley Hirsch, Frank Pahl, Roger Turner, and Davey Williams.

As a visual artist, Palmer has exhibited his paintings, silk-screened prints, and other unconventional artwork both locally and internationally in cities including London and Los Angeles, and he has designed many CD and record covers.

A leader in the arts community, Palmer promoted the ideas of improvisation and creativity in thought, performance, and visual art to students of all ages through his work with the Shaking Ray Levi Society and developed outreach programs for under-served populations including students with developmental, emotional, or physical disabilities. Palmer served as President of The Association for Visual Arts (AVA) and on the board of directors for Mark Making, and he taught art in Hamilton County schools.

When teaching children, Dennis would ask them about the last time they had a good feeling.  In his own words: "Clap your hands once and put your hands over your heart and give that good feeling to yourself. Next is to clap your hands again and sound off and give that feeling to everybody within the room. The third thing is to clap your hands, sound off and give that feeling out off to the whole universe."

Dennis was an inspiration for many and a strong advocate of "living in the moment" and "doing the highest good for all" in the community and beyond.

Body tribute 
Chattanooga Pulse tributes: one, two
Chattanoogan obit.
Creative Loafing tribute
Times Free Press tribute

Memorial Service for Dennis Palmer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Visitation: 2 to 4 PM
Service: 4 PM

Chattanooga Funeral Home, East Brainerd Chapel
8214 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421

The Shaking Ray Levis are featured in the latest issue of Signal to Noise magazine (issue #64, Fall 2012), gracing the cover (photography by Bob Wright) and interviewed by Chad Radford in a fascinating and provocative article.


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