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).
We arrived at Three Sisters Park, unaccustomed to the emptiness. We have been there so many times for Summer Camp, it was odd to visit our Memorial Day weekend home without the bustle created by thousands of people. Once we parked and ventured into the woods it seemed almost surreal to walk down the familiar paths sans all the tents. It was extremely beautiful and peaceful, the park was lusciously and vibrantly green.
We emerged from the path in the woods to a more open area that was still shaded by scattered trees. A little ways ahead we saw a group of people practicing poi. As we approached them it was a class for partner poi. We sat a few feet away and watched for a while. A little farther away to the right there was a group of people learning partner yoga.
Each class took place in a designated area of the park. And each area was themed according to the elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Spirit, Roots.
I am an aspiring hooper and was looking forward to taking some classes myself. To be completely honest I was a little intimidated at first; and although there were many advanced hoopers, there were also many beginners. Everyone was so friendly that any worry dissipated within no time. In less than an hour we had befriended various people. Suzanne’s beginner whoop class began and I joined in for a while. It was a little too hot to really get into it, but there’s nothing like hooping among the trees on a beautiful summer day.
We then ventured over to the Fire Station to get a glimpse of the Buugeng (pronounced “boo – gang”). Kyle was there teaching, I had checked out this art online before heading to Spark and was anxious to see it in real life. He was really nice and a great teacher. If you’re interested, like all the art you see at Spark it takes time and patience. From there we went to check out a class I couldn’t miss, “Fire Weapons Training: How to Act Like a Martial Artist and Kill Everyone.” There was a break and we went to get some dinner and cool off. We returned that evening for the fire and flow jam at the red barn.
Behind the barn a large area was sectioned off with tiki torches. There a DJ booth at the farther end blaring music that resounded throughout the woods. Within the sectioned off area there were people performing various fire arts, such as poi and staff. We sat on the lawn close enough to see the performers. There were various groups around us just hanging out and people practicing with LED hoops and poi. We stayed and hung out well into the night, and when we left for bed at around 1am, many people were still going strong. It was a great time and I was looking forward to the next day.
Saturday began with an enormous storm. The sky was pitch black, the wind scratched violently and the rain pounded down. Branches were being snapped off trees like toothpicks and so campers were evacuated from their tents for safety reasons. Surprisingly as fast as the storm came and as terrible as it was, by the early afternoon it was gone and the sun came out; soon enough it was a beautiful day.
The storm had done its damage however and so all the classes for the day were moved to the barn. It was actually really awesome to have everyone all together in that smaller space because you could easily observe and interact with others.
I spent some time going around and talking to people and watching different classes. When Olivia’s class “Olivia’s Fancy Bag of Hoop Tricks” began I had to partake. She taught us some very cool tricks, some that I already knew but learned other ways of doing them, and others that were completely new to me. It was fun to be surrounded by people all trying to learn the same tricks, encouraging you to try and try again.
We spent the rest of the afternoon talking to more people and learning some really awesome things. I watched people learn things from dart to break dancing, all type of art and performance is welcome and encouraged. Instead of going through everything myself, here’s a summary of the classes and people there through their own words.
Howard Chen demonstrates some martial art moves:
Brian Shank demonstrates whip (you should see him do this while the whip is on fire):
Jenn Rauscher demonstrates some aerial acrobatics:
Rob Hanson gives us an awesome Knife Defense lesson:
Holly Bonser performs an art new to many – Veil Dancing:
That evening they had a fire walk, where anyone could partake and walk on fire. It was a really neat experience and almost ritualistic preparing us for the night of fire performance art. To kick off the night we were in for a special treat, Jannell Justice, an experienced hooper of many years was going to break two world records for biggest fire hoop and fire hoop with most wicks. The biggest fire hoop in the world was 9 feet in diameter, and the fire hoop with the most wicks had a total of fifty – yes thats right 50. It was awesome to be there to witness it, but I got it on video for all of you who couldn’t make it.
50 Wick Hoop:
9 Foot Hoop:
There was no better way to kick off the night, and after Jannell’s performances came the Fire Battle! Two people battled it out until one person was the clear winner, then they would remain in the arena and a new challenger would enter. This was just AWESOME, the trip to Three Sister’s Park was worth this alone. Here is the first battle that kicked it off…check it out!
So for all of you who didn’t make it this year, make sure you don’t miss out next year! See you there!!