Recently I got the opportunity to meet with a person who is an integral part of the music industry that often goes unnoticed. Dr. Charlie Kautz, DC., is a chiropractor who specializes in treating musicians before their performances. Dr. Charlie and I sat down and discussed his services.
Me: Dr. Charlie, your website states that you provide specialized treatment protocols for professional touring musicians. Can you elaborate?
CK: Hey thanks, Alex! I’m a licensed chiropractor and my business, “Epic Performance Integrative Chiropractic”, to put it simply, provides a service to musicians to decrease pain and increase function to allow them to focus on what is important while they perform – the music. Along with chiropractic adjustments, I utilize a soft tissue technique called Active Release Technique and the application of kinesiology sports tape in my typical treatments.
Me: What is Active Release Technique?
CK: Active Release is a technique designed to treat repetitive stress injury and there is a unique protocol for each muscle in the body. I identify the muscle that needs to be treated, based on the type of musician I am working on, and use my unique treatment protocols to improve range of motion, increase muscle memory speed and decrease pain.
Me: As a chiropractor, what happened to inspire you to focus specifically on musicians?
CK: I’ve always been a big fan of music and it’s been a huge part of my life. During chiropractic school, I had a “light bulb moment.” While everyone wanted to be a “sports chiropractor”, I spent time trying to figure out how I could be different. By becoming a “music chiropractor”, I could incorporate what I love with my professional aspirations by treating a group of people that I feel need chiropractic more than anyone. Between the repetitive stress they put on their muscles and joints everyday and traveling and experiencing the rigors of touring, every musician can really benefit from what we have to offer. My friend, Wes Bailey, is really the first musician I started doing regular work on. If you haven’t heard of his band, Moon Taxi, you need to jump on the bandwagon ASAP.Me: This sounds like a relatively new field of work. Have you come across other chiropractors that specialize with musicians, or would you say you’re starting a new trend?
CK: I’m a member of the Chiropractic Performing Arts Network (CPAN). It’s a national organization of chiropractors who share a common vision of providing natural healthcare to performance artists by enhancing performance, increasing vitality, and increasing overall body awareness. I would be surprised if there were many other chiropractors out there with the drive and motivation that I have to study musicians and their ailments, especially one who is also certified in several soft tissue techniques. It’s really a niche I feel I’ve discovered. It’s a great time working with and treating the talented people that I admire and then seeing the looks on their faces after a treatment and getting to watch them perform on stage.
Me: What does your typical work week look like? Are you more in the office or traveling to work with bands?
CK: I work Monday through Thursday at Chiropractic and Wellness on Pewaukee Lake in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Any time bands are playing in the Milwaukee or Madison area, I will go to the venues and work with them. On weekends I do a lot of traveling between seminars and working on bands out of state. So, pretty much I am a really busy guy (laughs).
Me: So you’ve just been doing this for a few years now. What bands have you worked with? What has been the best experience so far?
CK: I’ve gotten my hands on a countless amount of musicians already but I’m somewhat limited to what I can say. I’ve received testimonials from members of Umphrey’s McGee, Moon Taxi, Roster McCabe, The Motet, Steez, Indigo Sun, and Undercover Organism, just to name a few. You can read their testimonials on my website. It was a lot of fun to be able to work Umphrey’s McGee recently during their Halloween run at The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. They’re a great group of guys and even more talented than I ever imagined before getting to meet and talk music with them. I also recently had the opportunity to provide my services to John Densmore, legendary drummer of The Doors. That was a really cool experience for me. I discovered that at the height of their touring career, the band would have a chiropractor come to the venue at least twice a week to treat them before they played. Mr. Densmore explained that chiropractic has been a vital tool he has utilized throughout his career to help with all of the aches and pains associated with being a musician. That was great for me to hear and offered a sense of validity to the mission of my business and what I can offer.Me: What aspirations do you have for Epic Performance Integrative Chiropractic going forward?
CK: I’d really like to expand my services to music festivals and connect with event organizers and promoters. I’ve been able to connect and work 1-on-1 with the bands really well so far, but one of my goals is to totally redefine artist hospitality at the big summer music festivals by taking the pre-show massage to a whole new level. While a massage feels great, it doesn’t address the underlying structural problems often associated with pain symptoms and dysfunction. I’d also like to establish some sort of “residency” with the bigger venues in the states that I’m licensed in, like I’ve done with some of the venues in the Milwaukee and Madison areas. Who knows, maybe you’ll see me at Summer Camp (laughs).
“That’s like a match made in Heaven for you.”
I had two different friends tell me that same phrase after it was announced Moon Taxi would be opening for Michael Franti & Spearhead in Madison in the final week of September. Both of these artists are in the exclusive group of my top 5 favorite artists, finding themselves consistently on my playlists.
This was my 2nd Moon Taxi show, with the first coming last summer when they opened for Matisyahu in Milwaukee. This show was very similar in all aspects, including a great set. Before their show, I got a chance to interview 2 members of the band thanks to my cousin (whom I’ll be writing about soon) who is close with the band. Read the interview here.
Although the set was just a half hour, the musical quality far exceeded the quantity. Moon Taxi opened their set with “Running Wild,” a fresh track of their new album Mountains Beaches Cities. A stand-out moment in their set appeared in the “Morocco,” also off their latest album, with some trancey exploration, showing off their jamming capabilities. Their set closer featured a rocking “Cabaret” that featured keyboardist Wes Bailey’s exceptional keyboard wizardry.
Moon Taxi Setlist
Running Wild, All the Rage, Morocco, The New Black, River Water, Mercury, Cabaret
After a brief intermission, the main attraction took the stage. Having seen Franti 5 previous times, I was expecting the opening song to be a track off their latest album, as the norm for Franti shows. I was not wrong, as “I Don’t Wanna Go” opened the show, from All People. Franti didn’t wait long before jumping in the crowd. In the second song of the evening, “Stay Human,” Franti hopped off the stage and navigated through the general admission pit on the lower level, stopping along the way to give high fives and dance with fans. He found his way back to the stage for “Yell Fire!”, and before “The Sound of Sunshine,” he shared a story with how he wrote that album: in the hospital after suffering a ruptured appendix. The mood quickly elevated as what seemed like a hundred of over-sized yellow beach balls came from back stage and flooded the crowd, dancing through the air after bouncing off the hands of anyone able to touch one.
A surprise “Ganja Babe,” appeared in the middle of the set, apparently inspired by whatever Michael smelt in his journeys throughout the crowd. A feel-good moment occurred in “Gangsta Girl,” in which Michael brought several fans up from the crowd with him to join as dancers, with one fan truly seizing the moment as he ran back and forth on the stage, encouraging the crowd to do the wave. After the song ended, Michael jokingly offered him a contract to the join the band.
To close the set, Michael lead the crowd in a sing-along of “Happy Birthday” to one of his crew members before bringing up members of Moon Taxi to join for an upbeat and funky “Let It Go.” As expected, he encored with his biggest hits, “I’m Alive” and “Say Hey,” welcoming any children fans on the stage for the latter, but surprised me with a very well placed “Long Ride Home” between the two for an impressive sandwich.
Michael Franti Setlist
I Don’t Wanna Go, Stay Human@, Yell Fire!, The Sound of Sunshine#, 11:59@, Closer to You@, Ganja Babe, Life is Better With You@, Gangsta Girl^, Hey World (Don’t Give Up)&, Bomb the World&, All People@, Say Goodbye@, Hey Hey Hey@*, Let It Go+
E: I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like), Long Ride Home, Say Hey (I Love You)~
@ Michael singing in the crowd
# plethora of beach balls released into the crowd
^ random fans brought on stage to dance
& Michael on acoustic guitar with Minus on djembe drum
* Get Lucky (Daft Punk) verse
+ with members of Moon Taxi
~ kids brought on stage