First CD release shows other side of Sylvest

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – For years in his professional life, Patrick Sylvest has been giving something back to people in the job he does every day.

Now he is hoping to take another gift he has and leave it for people to enjoy and appreciate for many years to come.

Sylvest, a lifelong resident of Gramercy before recently moving to Thibodaux, said he knew from an early age that he wanted to work in the medical profession. He eventually became a nurse anesthesiologist, with a Masters of Science degree from Xavier.

“I guess it’s always been about taking care of people, helping people to heal,” he said. “Either you’re the kind of person who is a caregiver, or you’re not, and I guess I’m that kind of person.”

But Sylvest has also had a personal passion for music, which began in a large family with seven kids where “everyone played an instrument or sang.”

That led him to start playing guitar as a teen-ager, then to playing in a folk music band, and now releasing his own CD that was produced in Nashville, Tenn.

Even though he realizes the dream of “being discovered” is mostly just that—a dream of most all musicians—he said he is content knowing he has put out a permanent piece of music that includes songs which range from a tribute to his father, to the title tract, “A Little Less Louisiana,” which is about coastal erosion in the state.

“The title tract has suddenly gotten me invited to radio shows to talk about coastal erosion, as if I am some kind of expert,” he said with a laugh. “So after the first show, I figured I better do a little research to have some facts to back up what I was talking about.”

In reality, the song was certainly an effort to bring attention to the problem in Louisiana, but never intended to make it the key point of his CD.

“Why did I do a CD? I’ve been writing songs since I was young,” Sylvest said. “So to put out a CD at this point in my life is just what a songwriter does. I think the songs are worthy of being shared.”

Sylvest, now 44, grew up in Gramercy and graduated from Lutcher High School, going on to college at South Alabama and Xavier, as well as graduating from the Charity Nursing School with his RN.

He said he got interested in anesthesiology from his mother’s friend, and at age 18 remembers riding his bike up to the house of St. James Hospital CEO Joan Murray and telling her he wanted to be a nurse.

“She told me to be at the hospital the next day, and they put me to work as an assistant,” he recalled.

His music began when he picked up the guitar at home one day after one of his brother’s had been playing.

“I got him to show me a few things and basically was self-taught although you would have to say that there were a million people who helped along the way,” he said.

He got to the point of playing in a folk music band with some friends and began traveling a lot to Lafayette, but recently quit the long drive and now does “mostly duet gigs” at many places in the region.

As he built his song repertoire to 12-15 that he thought were worthy of consideration for a CD, he took the necessary step to get Nashville studio musicians and producer Harry Robinson to put the CD together on his own, which cost a little over $10,000 of his own money.

He said an especially favorite song is “Collard Greens,” which is the same title of a book his father, Thomas Ard Sylvest, wrote, with many stories from throughout his life.

Now Sylvest plays guitar, dobro and mandolin, as well as singing on the CD. His playing days now involve some outings with his 16-year-old so, who is rapidly picking up the talent that has obviously been throughout the family for years, as well as gigs he performs with other longtime musician friends.

His CD is available on