20Q: Catching up with dentist/musician Tom Reitz


Anthony Wahl

Editor's Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area's arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person's artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.

Tom Reitz

Born on Christmas Day and raised in Edgerton, Tom Reitz has been an active member of his community his entire life.

After earning his degree in dentistry at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Reitz came back home to join his father's practice in 1988. He has been in the same location for more than 25 years.

Reitz has been a driving force behind Edgerton's popular Chilimania festival for the past 28 years, and his love of music led him to form the band Pink Houses about 15 years ago.

Married to his wife, Tammy, Reitz also has two stepsons, Max and Hays. He likes music, traveling, trying different foods, technology and being a dentist.

For more about Reitz, Chilimania and Pink Houses, visit edgertondentist.com, Chilimania.com and PinkHouses.net, respectively.

1. You front the band Pink Houses, which focuses on the music of John Mellencamp. Why Mellencamp? I was between bands, and I wanted to start up a band that had 10-plus people to separate us from four- and five-piece bands and look for festival gigs. I was actually planning an R&B/soul-type band and had the horn section all lined up. Then I saw Mellencamp in concert for the first time at Summerfest in 2001. He had three backup singers and a full band including violin and accordion. I knew every song and was singing all night long, and my voice felt great. I could sing like him, so I switched directions, put the set list together and went on a 15-month journey of learning all the words. That's crazy for me as I never really listen to the words; I tune into the music all the time. That next week, a guy came into my office that played accordion, and we were off and running.

2. You're one of the founders of Edgerton's Chilimania festival. What pepper best describes you: bell, jalapeno or habanero? I'll go with ancho. It's a little less hot than a jalapeno; it has a sweetness to it, and it's really a dried poblano pepper. It's kind of everything you need.

3. You are a dentist in your “real job.” Which well-known rock star has the worst teeth? Freddie Mercury sure had a huge overbite, but also a huge voice.

4. Your birthday is on Christmas? What's it like to get cheated out of either birthday presents on Christmas Day or Christmas presents on your birthday? My birthday was always the best. Christmas presents came on the 'Eve,' and birthday presents on the day. These days, I also get a birthday in June. It's really a blast.

5. How many instruments do you play, and which is your favorite? I started on drums at age 8, then went to saxophone in sixth grade and then guitar as a freshman in high school. I'll go with guitar.

6. Do I really need to floss? Listen … tell me how else you're killing the anaerobic bacteria that live between your teeth and under the gum that cause gum disease, cavities and plenty of other health-related issues and grow back every 20-24 hours? I get it; some people have big hands and fingers and a small mouth so they can't really manipulate the floss in there. But there are other things you can use. My point is, if I'm stranded on a deserted island and had to choose either floss or a toothbrush, I'll take the floss.

7. When did bands become “tribute bands” instead of “impersonators,” and why is the former title preferred? I think “impersonator” is more of a comedic implication. “Tribute” to me shows more respect and admiration to the band in general. There's not enough money to book the big bands for events like ours, but when you bring in an act that does the show perfect, that is something special.

8. As a dentist, can you explain why, when something is difficult, do people refer to it as “like pulling teeth”? Think of the old days like in the Wild West. There was no anesthesia except whiskey.

9. What is your ultimate goal with Chilimania? My ultimate goal would be seeing every high school senior that is going to college get a scholarship. Putting on a great event is obvious. I like to see something new added every year because it keeps the event fresh and gives more excitement for the awesome people that help plan and work it. But really, just giving back to the community that has been great to me.

10. You have a lot of irons in the fire between your dental practice, playing in the band and organizing one of biggest events in the area. Where do you find the time? That takes up all my time honestly. I go on vacation with my wife, Tammy, to find the time to just chill out. I'll never be able to say, “I just wish I would have done that” in my life. My plate is always full.

11. Nobody likes to go to the dentist, but everybody likes to go to a rock show. Does that give you a complex? Not at my office. For us, it's a rock show every day. I have different music coming out of all of the rooms I work in, so it's really a different atmosphere. No complex here.

12. If you could trade places with anyone—anyone at all—who would it be, and why? Sammy Hagar. The guy just exudes fun, he's had a great solo career and has a very strong and powerful voice. He was able to sing for both Van Halen and Montrose and tour the world. He  bought the Cabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and started Cabo Wabo Tequila—which he later sold for $100 million. He loves business and has been really successful. Did you know he has a rum now? And he can't drive 55.

13. If someone else paid for the experience, would you go bungee jumping? Nope … well, maybe. I guess I'd give in to a lot of peer pressure, but I don't know who that would come from right now.

14. Dogs or cats? Cats, but not by much. And not too big. And maybe a few different colors. And one that likes music and loves gourmet food.

15. If you could sit in with any band besides Mellencamp's, which one would it be? Green Day. I can play all the guitar parts, and I can sing a pretty good punk-style voice. Green Day-type music would really be where my heart lies. I thank my brother Jeff for getting me started on The Ramones in the early '70s.

16. What is the weirdest ingredient you've ever seen used in chili? I guess orange juice. That was in the first chili recipe we used for the chili sold to the public. It gave the chili some sweetness. The group was all like, “What?”

17. Why did the chicken cross the road? To buy another guitar.

18. If you were immortal for a day, what would you do? I'd go swimming in the ocean. I'm not a strong swimmer, so I'd drown. But I could check out all the ocean had to offer way down deep and explore things I don't normally get to see.

19. In tic tac toe, are you an X or an O? X. I think it works out better spatially for me. It's like simple dialectics with everything all interwoven together, or the contrary tendencies in life crossing back and forth with each other. Get it? That's the “X”!

20. Four out of five dentists prefer: Golf to guitar.

Know someone involved in the local arts/entertainment community you think would be a great subject for 20Q? Email kicks Editor Greg Little at glittle@gazettextra.com.

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