Dogs and rock ‘n’ roll are a natural together. Led Zeppelin provided ample proof of this, and so did numerous other iconic rock acts whosememberswere partial to K9s, from TheWho to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In New York City, dog lovers who enjoy rocking out can catch local band Pet Rox, a seven-member electric outfit comprised ofhardcore animal lovers, including two vocalists calling themselves(what else?) The Roxettes.
Pet Rox is fronted byfounding memberJeffrey Levy, a veterinarian who composes,sings, and plays rhythm guitar. By day, his specialty is housecall acupuncture, to treat conditions ranging from arthritis to behavior issues; after hours, “Dr. Jeff”sets asidehis needles, brings out his guitar,and writes music influenced, he says, by such classic bands as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks.
He started Pet Rox in 1998. Since then, the band hasperformed all over New York City, withanywhere from three musicians (appearing unplugged, as anacoustic trio) to the current seven.Pet Rox hasprovided musical entertainment at the AmericanCancerSociety’s annual DogsWalk Against Cancer for the past nine years running.The band’svarious members have included a pet psychic, a pet astrologer, and a sea lion trainer!
But one thing this ever-evolvinggroup never changes isits strongcommitment to raising awareness of animalwelfare through the transcendent, universal language of music. Fittingly, the fun Pet Rox logo is a soulful, guitar-playing, man-dog wearing a rakish sash on his head.
“All of our musical selections outwardly relate to the vast array of creatures with which we co-inhabit this planet, but touch on themes of relevance to the human condition,” Levy explains. “Most ofthe songs draw inspiration from my work as a veterinarian,” he adds, citing the poignant “Walk With You” as an example.
“This song is really about elder care for our pets, but more than that, it’s about the special bond we have with them: What they bring to our lives, and what we bring to theirs.” The song was inspired by the profound relationship between one of Levy’s longtime clients and her beloved lab, who passed away.
Pet Rox tunes have a serious blues pedigree thanks to Levy’s immersion in the sounds of theMississippi Delta. “In my vet studies, I ended up at Mississippi State University, which was really a dream come true for a musician,” he recalls. “I got to live and work in musically historical places I’d only ever read about.” Today, Levy is a member of the university’s adjunct faculty, and stays in touch with several local blues musicians.
Levyis now in talks with Broadway theater producers to develop a family-friendly, pet-centric musical based on Pet Rox songs. It’s sure to delight the band’s many fans of all ages, who are happy to chime induring concerts. “We have’barkalongs’ where we invite human audience members to bark along,” Levy says. As for the sound of actual pets vocalizing, Levy is contemplating incorporating dog sounds into the group’s next album.
In the meantime, Pet Rox will have its fourth annual “Rock ‘n’ Rudolph” holiday fundraiser tomorrow night, December 2nd, at the famed New York City cabaret venue Don’t Tell Mama. Each year, a portion of proceeds from this annual two-drink-minimum party benefits a different animal non-profit. “We highlight the good work of different animal charities,” Levy says. “This time out, the charityis Bide-a-Wee.” Showtime is 9 p.m. at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street; toreserve tickets ($25 each, plus a two-drink minimum), go here.
If you can’t make it totomorrow’s show, check out the band’s MySpace pagefor news of forthcoming gigs -and while you’re there,listen to selections from the aptly-titled Pet RoxCD, “Just Sniffing Around.”