For Good Medicine Presents co-founders Todd and Korie Newman, music is a family affair.
“We truly have a family business,” said Korie Newman, who started the San Luis Obispo-based event production company with her husband this past fall. “Those kids go everywhere with us. They scout out all the locations. They listen to the music when we’re reviewing (bands). … They’re part of it.”
Four-year-old Rohn Newman and his sister Acacia, who turns 2 in September, even help out on stage.
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Todd and Korie Newman spent a decade as the co-owners of one of downtown San Luis Obispo’s most popular night spots —known alternately as SLO Brewing Co. and Downtown Brewing Co. — before divesting their share of that business and launching their latest venture. Now the Cayucos couple specializes in bringing acts such as Jeff Bridges, Michael Franti, Ziggy Marley and Neil Young to various venues on the Central Coast.
“We definitely ascribe to the philosophy that, in the grand scheme of things, all you get is time,” Todd Newman said. “So you definitely want that time to be meaningful.”
From medicine to music
Despite their concert-producing acumen, the Newmans didn’t start out in the music business.
Todd Newman, who grew up in Wasco, graduated from the University of Arizona in 1995 with a degree in exercise physiology and moved to the Central Coast. His wife, an Arroyo Grande native, studied kinesiology at Cal Poly, graduating in 1997.
Korie Newman, meanwhile, taught physical education at Lucia Mar Unified School District. While working those jobs, they also ran a physical therapy-related consulting firm, Future Rehab, and a real estate brokerage, Central Coast Properties,
In his capacity as a broker, Todd Newman worked with San Luis Obispo developer WestPac to sell SLO Brewing Co., a brewery, concert venue and restaurant then owned by Mike and Becky Hoffman. (WestPac had just bought the Garden Street building.)
As Newman pored over the prospectus for SLO Brew on the kitchen table, “Korie literally walked by, looked over my shoulder and said, ‘That looks like fun. Maybe we should consider buying it,’” he recalled. The couple partnered with Compass Health Inc. of Grover Beach to purchase the business in September 2005. They owned 50 percent.
A fun challenge
Running Downtown Brewing Co., as the Newmans dubbed their new venue, proved to be both remarkably difficult and immensely rewarding.
For starters, they had to learn how to work with the two dozen or so music promoters who brought in bands.
“You might have exchanged some emails, you might have signed a contract, but you're (only) meeting each other that night,” Todd Newman explained. “At that particular moment you're trying to figure out if you can align your expectations with the 50 employees that you have … and the 10 to 20 people (associated with the band) who come on that particular night.”
“That freaked me out,” he added, “but Korie could really manage that.”
“I always knew that if it didn't work out, oh well, we just won't book them the next time. It just wasn't meant to be,” his wife said. “But maybe we're going to end up making a long-term relationship with these people, and we'll all get to see each other for years.”
The couple forged an especially tight bond with groove rock group Still Time, which will play a reunion concert July 17 at SLO Brew.
“There’s family you’re born to and family you choose, and they became our family,” Todd Newman said.
By 2008, the Newmans had given up their other business pursuits and were focusing on Downtown Brew full-time.
“We put our hearts and souls in the Brew,” Todd Newman said. “The Brew would candidly take everything you would give it, and then some, but it (treated) us well.”
Compass Health exited the business in 2010, and developer Hamish Marshall came on board as co-owner of the business, once again called SLO Brew. But their partnership proved challenging in light of a pending move to a new location on Higuera Street that would mean less of a focus on live music, and the Newmans and Marshall parted ways in October 2014.
Asked about that deeply emotional decision to separate from SLO Brew — an entity that “basically defined who we were at that time,” he said — Todd Newman was diplomatically vague.
“We both gave our best efforts to acquiesce to a shared vision and a shared goal, and it just didn't work out that way,” Newman said. “As we were looking toward the future and continuing the partnership, we just felt we had moved too far from our center and it was time for us to … make a change.”
Making a fresh start
To ponder their next move, the Newmans and their children took a road trip in February along Highway 1 to Vancouver, British Columbia. The trip, which coincided with Korie Newman’s 40th birthday, made the couple realize they wanted to continue pursuing their two passions — music and beer.
“At the end of the trip, we had the perspective of ‘This is what we're truly passionate about. ... It's what we've done now as a family, and it's what we're going to continue to do,’" Todd Newman said.
The Newmans named Good Medicine Presents after Good Medicine, their three-acre property in Cayucos. The company’s slogan is, appropriately, “The Cure For What Ales You.”
Good Medicine Presents started by bringing acts to SLO Brew and the Alex Madonna Expo Center and Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo. Since March, the Newmans have added more venues — including The Cliffs Resort and SeaVenture Beach Hotel in Pismo Beach and Tooth and Nail Winery in Paso Robles, the former location of Eagle Castle Winery.
Good Medicine Presents will continue to host concerts at SLO Brew until August, when the venue is expected to close to make way for the Garden Street Terraces project — 93,425 square feet of commercial, residential and hotel space. The new Higuera Street location is slated to open in September.
On the beer side, Good Medicine Presents has partnered with BarrelHouse Brewing Co. in Paso Robles to produce its first brew — Good Medicine Presents IPA Elixer, which made its debut at the Memorial Day concert at The Cliffs.
“So far we’ve been really pleased with sharing a vision and heading in the same direction,” said Todd Newman, noting that Good Medicine Presents and BarrelHouse Brewing are also collaborating on events.
Eventually, the Newmans said, they’d like to open a brewery and music venue of their own.
Whatever happens, they plan to stick to their fun, family-centered approach.
“The other day, I asked Rohn … ‘What does Good Medicine do?’” Todd Newman said.
His son replied, “It makes people happy.”
Good Medicine Presents