On August 10th my sister, drummer Janet Weiss, was in a serious car accident. A speeding car hit hers while she was driving near her house in Portland. At first she just heard a loud crash, then felt the car spin out of control. When her car finally stopped spinning Janet and her partner Drew Grow, who was in the passenger seat, were both conscious. Janet knew right away that something was wrong with her legs, and her left shoulder was also in pain. An ambulance rushed her to the nearest emergency room, where X-rays showed that Janet had a broken left collarbone, and fractures to both legs (her right Tibia and left Fibula). Drew was further from the impact zone and escaped with a painful broken rib.
When Janet called me from the ER to say she had been in a car accident, I was in Los Angeles, and I have to say it was the scariest call I’ve ever received. The doctor got on the phone to say he wanted to do surgery almost immediately that day to align the bones in her right leg. I hoped he could wait so I could be there with her and Drew, but we took the doctor’s advice to do the surgery right away and I flew up from LA to be there when she got out of the OR. The surgery went well, but the doctor told us that the right leg has to be completely non-weight-bearing for 12weeks. And because the broken collarbone makes it impossible for her to use crutches, and her other leg has to heal too, she’ll need to use a wheelchair to get around for the duration of her healing. She was forced to cancel a joint tour with her bands, Quasi and Slang. She was so excited about this tour. Quasi was even going to do a 5 day “residency” in Portland in October, which would have been amazing. We also realized that she will have to pass up work for at least 3 months in her new career as a location manager for film and TV.
Of course because Janet is a drummer, our first thought was that her bones have to heal completely before she can play again. Her biggest concern now is that to fully heal, she needs to have the highest quality and most intense physical therapy possible to get her back into drumming shape. That is the ultimate goal no matter how long it takes. We also need to be certain she has the care she needs so that she doesn’t fall and re-injure the broken bones. Her friends have already gone above and beyond in offering their time and care and Janet and Drew are blown away by that. But bracing for the three months of recovery ahead, we know there will be times when Drew has to be at work and Janet will need to schedule outside help. Because she will be in a wheelchair and out of work for at least 3 months, she will need help with the costs insurance doesn’t cover, like: out-of-pocket medical bills, nursing care, physical therapy, the wheelchair ramp that was installed at her house, and paying for her monthly expenses while she can’t work.
Drumming is my sister’s life. If you have ever seen her play live or heard her records, you know this. What you might not know is that she didn’t start playing the drums until she was 22! She had never touched a drum kit before that. She was living in San Francisco and going to college when a few musician friends asked if she would be the drummer in their band. She said yes, then realized she had to learn to play the drums! They must have had some idea she could do it. I guess THEY KNEW. I was visiting Janet and remember walking together to a friend’s house where we picked up a borrowed drum kit, carrying it back through the streets to her house. She has played in so many incredible bands since those early days: Quasi, Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag, the Jicks and her newest band Slang with Drew. I’ve never missed a show when she played in New York, where I lived for most of that time, and I don’t plan on missing any shows in the future! There is no way this accident can stop her from drumming. She is determined and is a force of nature.
In addition to drumming in her bands, for the last few years Janet has found a creative outlet for her great visual sense (she studied film in school and is an amazing photographer) working as a Location Manager for film and tv in Portland, a job she loves. She can’t wait to get back to doing that, and to her beloved friends and colleagues, her “film family” who have shown her enormous support and friendship since the accident.
She has said many times since the accident that she is so lucky to be alive and that she dreams of playing the drums again. Her attitude is strong, she will work as hard as she can to make this happen. Let’s face it, IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. But none of this is possible without some unavoidable costs and she could really use support from her community as she regains the strength to play the drums with the power and beauty we’ve all been so fortunate to hear over the years.
We appreciate any size donation you can spare to help Janet through this. She has been so energized and touched already by the love and support of her friends and fans since the accident. She has been keeping everyone posted on her recovery on Instagram (@theejazzzhand).
Thanks so much for coming together to help get Janet back on her feet and back behind her drum kit!