with Catherine Keener and Levon Helm

I just received this email:

“Dear Friends,
Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy”

I got to know Levon personally because he played my husband in the ABC movie “The Dollmaker.” He was kind and deep and devoted to music, as a singer and playing not only drums, but harmonica, fiddle, mandolin, you name it.

He has lived for a long time in Woodstock, New York, where he turned his barn/studio into a place where hundreds of people would come weekly to his “Midnight Ramble“. I filmed my soon-to-be-released movie, “Peace, Love And Misunderstanding” there and had the chance to attend several of the Midnight Rambles. It was like being in church. Brilliant guest artists would come to play with him and his group. Donald Fagin, pianist and lead voice of Steely Dan, was a regular.

All you have to do is rent “The Last Waltz“, the documentary that Martin Scorsese made of The Band’s last performance together to be reminded what an astonishing drummer Levon was. He gave the Band it’s powerful, driving force, a wall of pulsating rhythm. And his voice—singing “The Weight”–all deep soul.

I am so sad.

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  1. Hi Jane,
    Very sad.
    I was thinking about your blog a lot today. When I watch ‘The Dollmaker’ there is no doubt in my mind that you are not Gertie and that you are not a real married couple. You both really bonded on screen. You are both totally believable. Very touching.
    Thank you both for giving us that.
    In gratitude.

  2. This is indeed sad. 🙁 I loved The Dollmaker, especially your brilliant performance (one of my favorite ones ever) but the performances of your co-stars added a great to it and it wouldn’t have been as believable, balanced and ultimately cathartic. The best way to describe Leon Helm’s work is that it’s so authentic and I could just feel his roots and that he really understood his character. If you know what I mean. 🙂

  3. What a wonderful tribute to Levon. I can see he will be missed by many. Jane I have been wanting to get the opportunity to communicate with you to tell you how moved I was by your lesson on Oprah’s Master Class! I got “goosebumps” when you were telling the story of your childhood. The similarities were amazing. I am not a famous person of course, but that does not change the fact that life is full of hurts, laughter, and lessons. I have a blog that I started a couple of years ago. In it is a post about my relationship with my mother. I know you are an exceptionally busy person, but I would like to ask you to take the time to read it. It would mean very much to me. I think that the adversity that you have faced throughout your life has made you a stronger and deeply amazing woman, and so many can learn from that. “It’s never too late-never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” What a wonerful message of hope that is! Thank you Jane for being such an awesome inspiration to so many. 🙂

  4. I saw him in San Francisco 2 years ago and what a amazing show. Maybe 200 people it was the best concert I had ever seen. My 23 year old son got to shake his hand and since he is also a drummer that moment made him move to LA six months ago to try to make it as drummer.He was also a good actor. He seems to have had a very excellent life and he got to do what he loved. Most of us never get to do that. Thanks for your memories Jane.

  5. Dear Jane, my sincere condoleances with the lost of your good friend Levon. We lost a good friend at the age of 43 a few years ago. You never get used to it, no matter the age. People just cannot be missed, take care, Nancy

  6. Jane,
    I was very fortunate to have seen him, Levon play at the Greek Theater many years ago, and have to say that it was one of the very Best Concerts that I have been to.
    He will be Greatly missed by many. Such a talent he brought many people Joy!

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