Library to feature NWA premiere of Levon Helm documentary, panel discussion

The Fayetteville Public Library will present the Northwest Arkansas premiere of Ain’t In It for My Health, a documentary about musician and Arkansas native Levon Helm, at 6:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, followed by a panel discussion featuring those who knew him.

Helm, the charismatic drummer and lead vocalist of The Band, has strong Northwest Arkansas connections. He performed with former Fayetteville resident and rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins as well as local favorites, The Cate Brothers Band, who joined The Band on tour in the 1980s.

To produce the intimate documentary, director Jacob Hatley spent two-and-a-half years with Helm at his home in Woodstock, New York. Hatley and his crew followed Helm everywhere from the kitchen table to a Midnight Ramble concert in his barn and on trips to his doctor’s office.

Helm died in 2012 after a battle with throat cancer.

His music career aside, Hatley said the reason to watch the film is Helm’s personality.

“Tom, our editor, would always say that if Levon had never been in The Band – if he wasn’t even a musician, if he just worked at some textile mill in Arkansas – then he should still have a documentary made about him.”

The film and panel discussion will take place in the library’s Walker Community Room. Featured panelists, moderated by KUAF news director and “Ozarks at Large” host Kyle Kellams, include: Anna Lee Amsden, Helm’s lifelong friend and the “Anna Lee” mentioned in The Band song, “The Weight”; Earl Cate of The Cate Brothers Band; Terry Cagle, Helm’s nephew and drummer for The Cate Brothers Band; and Junior Markham, a friend of Helm’s who also performed with him in the 1960s.

The Fayetteville Public Library will present additional screenings of the documentary at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 as part of the Fayetteville Roots Festival; at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 during Bikes, Blues and BBQ; and at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26.

Trailer – Ain’t In It for My Health