Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Beat Goes On

If you think veterinary authors are a rare breed, just wait til you try to find a veterinary musician! But find one I did, as I was lucky enough to interview Dr. Noel Lorica, a small animal vet in West Palm Beach, Florida. During the day, Noel is the sole practitioner at St. Francis Animal Clinic, but any time he's not practicing veterinary medicine, he's composing music, recording, or performing with his band Treebo, specializing in jazz with Latin/Brazilian undertones, a niche Noel has called "wayward jazz". Sample some of the band's music here.
Noel Lorica, DVM
Noel started playing guitar around 12 years of age. His mother desired a more classical instrument for her son and a compromise was made: Noel was allowed to continue guitar if he also took up piano lessons. As Noel got older he says his parents, both professors at the University of the Philippines, "were afraid that my wayward guitar playing in local clubs was going to interfere with my education in veterinary studies but I found it helped having an outlet from the heavy study load."

"It's the process of focusing on the creative side of you that will enhance your life."

Noel says that how he plays now is a far cry from where he started when he was younger. "As with most young men," he says, "rock is usually the first inclination. Parties, girls, rebellion--what more could you ask for? Turns out more than two chords and angst." Noel has learned to blend his self-described "soulful expression" with the guitar with his more classical background in piano to foster an appreciation that each note is unique. This blending led Noel to jazz. "My life's journey also influenced my style. From the Philippines to San Francisco to New York and lastly Florida--as you move, you pick up new styles of music."
Treebo performing
Perhaps people don't often think of a dual career of veterinarian and musician. Noel looks at this balance as a symbiotic system. "I'm not a person who can just sit and relax," he says. "I have to constantly be feeling that I'm moving forward. Sometimes cases are difficult and the daily workload of a sole practitioner can leave little room for sanity. This balance [between veterinary work and music] gives me a mental spacing that I need to maintain focus on the cases. I always keep a guitar at the clinic, for those times of inspiration. And my patients don't seem to complain."
Treebo's album "Run With It"
Together now for over ten years, Noel's band Treebo has had a semi-fluid state of band members but fundamentally consists of guitar, drums, keyboard, bass, and vocalist. The band's name is derived from the phonetic spelling of the word "tribe" in Tagalog. With an ever-growing fan base and gigs at major music festivals and venues, Treebo's music has been in consideration by the Grammy awards committee. Currently, Noel is working on fourteen instrumental Philippine folk songs that he's infusing with jazz and Latin tones for a personal album and Treebo is putting the finishing touches on a Christmas vocal album. "It's been a busy year of recording for us, but I love every minute of it," he says.

I asked Noel if he has any encouraging words for other vets out there who might be searching for a way to pursue a creative outlet. "To paraphrase: just do it," he says. "How you start is irrelevant. Whether it's just a doodle or full canvas, harmonica to cello, it's the process of focusing on the creative side of you that will enhance your life."

Noel's albums and singles are available for download on ITunes. Follow the band on Twitter @treeboband and Facebook.

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