Back doctor took a musical detour before practice

By Myke Folger

Editor of

Before he became Magnolia’s newest chiropractor, Joshua Penner was a musician with a record contract living in Nashville. Penner, far right, with brothers, Toby (center) and Marty, played for more than four years.

Joshua Penner has always had a fascination with chiropractic, even when he was on tour.

Yes, on tour.

Not as a chiropractor, but as a rhythm guitarist for the Alberta, Canada-based alt-rock band, Jake.

The members of Jake were himself, his twin brother, Marty (bass guitar), and his older brother, singer/songwriter and guitarist, Toby. The brothers got to be so good that they went to Nashville where they were given a record contract and recorded two CDs.

“It was incredible to get paid for having fun,” Penner said. “We did a couple of coast-to-coast Canada tours then into the U.S. and did a quick tour of the U.K. – and Ireland.”

Penner lived the life of a rocker for more than four years. While it was fun and thrilling, it wasn’t what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

His older brother, Toby, was the rocker. He wrote most of the songs, sang them, played lead guitar. It was clear who was the driving force. Publishing credits were shared accordingly, too. And while Penner was in Nashville, he’d befriended a chiropractor and it rekindled an interest he had.

Penner had always been interested in sports, physical education, sports medicine and therapy. And at a job fair after high school where he talked to a chiropractor, his career trajectory seemed headed that way, too.

Fast-forward to Nashville and he knew he wanted to pursue chiropractic full time. He enrolled at Tennessee State University at Nashville where he worked toward a degree in human biology. Penner then transferred to Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore., where completed his degree and earned his chiropractic standing.

Penner graduated in 2008 and quickly landed a job in the Lake Union area. In unusual circumstances, the owner of that practice lived in Hawaii and commuted regularly. But Penner quickly became the go-to guy and put his training into practice.

‘It was a great experience,” Penner said.

Magnolia had been an unknown to Penner until his twin brother, Marty, who had also left the band and moved to Ballard, told him about Discovery Park. Marty liked to cross the Ballard Locks and jog in the park and when he told his brother about it, the beauty of the place was all it took.

“Now I run there all the time,” Penner said.

In fact, Penner liked Magnolia so much, the small-town, island-like feel, that he and his wife, Wendy, began looking not only for a business location, but a residence, too.

They found some commercial property at 3150 West Government Way where they just opened Magnolia Chiropractic and Massage. Wendy is the bookkeeper.

They are in the process of hiring a front-desk person and an on-site massage therapist.

The timing of the opening was a bit “tenuous,” Penner said, referring to the dour economy.

But he just felt ready to make a move and so the 31-year-old, former rhythm guitarist, did. And he has every intention of staying for a while having secured the location for at least 18 years.

“We wanted [the lease] to be long term and I can see myself retiring in this practice,” he said.