Dr. Jeffrey Levy’s House Call Vet NYC has provided hollistic and conventional in-home veterinary services in New York City since 1997. Some of his patients have come from famous musical families, including cats owned by Mick Jagger, Judy Collins and Paula Cole; and dogs belonging to Marvin Hamlisch, Renee Fleming, and Lou Reed.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Jeffrey Levy was inspired by the British Invasion. In second grade, he “show and telled” by singing Beatles songs adapted to promote his entrepreneurial venture, the Nutty Nut Club, which offered snacks for sale to classmates. Essentially self-taught, by high school, he was leading a garage band that played dances and parties. He and his friends became obsessed by The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St., and tried to match it note for note.
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Levy continued to jam in college, but left his guitars behind to study veterinary medicine in Italy. Levy finished his veterinary degree at Mississippi State University and literally “went down to the crossroads” to commune with the spirit of Robert Johnson, launching a pilgrimage to the holy sites of the Delta Blues. Music was put on the back burner again when he returned to New York City to begin his career.
Once Levyhad built up a stable practice, he turned back to music. This time, he was inspired to compose songs about the animals he treats. He’s developed the concept band Pet-Rox, which raises money for animal-related causes. He’s appeared onstage with Mary Tyler Moore, Bernadette Peters, Pete Seeger, and many other friends of animal welfare. Pet-Rox recorded the CD JustSniffing Around, and is working with a creative team to develop a children’s musical and book about caring for our animal friends.
Who are your main influences?
Both British invasions: the mid ’60s and the early ’80s. The Stones were my lifeblood. Among American groups, I loved Leon Russell and The Band for bringing in the influences of gospel and other roots music.
Why do you continue to make music?
When you reach a certain point in your career, you have enough breathing room to turn back to your first love. But you come to it in a more mature way. I no longer dream of becoming a rock star, but I know that my music makes people happy and contributes to a cause I truly believe in—animal welfare. Pet-Rox merges my two lifelong passions: love for music and a commitment to helping animals.
How do you continue to learn?
I appreciate music more every day. I take piano lessons. I go to musical theater and concerts of all kinds. Mainly, I keep my eyes and ears open.
What benefits have you found to making music?
Music is an effective way to raise money for charities that mean something to me. It’s a concrete way to make a tiny impact on this world.
How do you make time for music in your life?
I travel around NYC to see patients 12 hours a day. Some of my best songs were written on the “A” train. When I get home, I try to sit down with a guitar or at my keyboard for a few minutes every night. I close the door of my little studio and enter a different world.
What advice do you have for someone getting back into music later in life?
Just do it! Roll up your sleeves and do your best. Pick up an instrument or start singing. Grab some friends for jam sessions. Have fun!
What is the best memory you have of making music?
My friend Bob Ellison, my high school partner in crime, who dreamed along with me, passed away a few years ago. He was a great support when I came back to music after all those years. I miss him every time I pick up my guitar.