“The Jumping Turtle is a mainly metal place,” says rapper Bryan Mason of the San Marcos venue. “They are paying national headliners thousands of dollars. I wish they were that cool with hip-hop.”
Mason, who has performed as “Jedi,” “Bionic,” and “Booster,” says the Jumping Turtle devotes one Thursday a month to hip-hop.
“They give you $10 tickets to sell. You get to keep 50 cents of every ticket you sell after you sell 20 tickets. If you sell 19 tickets and give them $190, you get nothing; if you sell $200 worth of tickets, you get to keep $10.”
Mason says the artist’s take bumps up once you sell 50 $10 tickets. (“Then you get to keep a dollar a ticket.”)
Mostly because Mason doesn’t agree with the club’s pay structure, he recently booked his own show at the Cow Shed, another San Marcos music venue.
“We had over 100 people, and they were mostly college kids,” says Mason. “Everyone had a great time. There was not one fight. We had a hula-hoop contest, which was supposed to be for the girls but some of the drunk guys got in it too.… Ray, the owner, is cool. He let us keep the [$5-per-head] door [charge].”
Mason says after he paid expenses (fellow rapper Jason Getz, a DJ, the hula hoops) he walked with $600.
“The only problem with the Cow Shed is that it is 21 and up,” says Mason. “The Jumping Turtle is a bar that lets in underage kids all night.”
Jumping Turtle entertainment director Joe Troutman says since late February the club has had “…an agreement with the sheriff’s department” that has allowed those under 21 to stay in the bar past 10 p.m. as long as they arrive before 10 p.m. He says the San Marcos City Council supported the policy.
“We have multicolored wristbands which show who is over 21,” says Troutman, “and you get a red X on your hand if you’re under 21. And I have a lot of security. We keep an eye on it really well.”
Troutman agrees with Mason that hard rock has become “…our niche. But we try and be well rounded.” He says he would be happy to have hip-hop more often than once a month, “If we find a [promoter] I’m comfortable with.”
Mason, meanwhile, says he will go back to play the Turtle “…because it’s the only spot I know of in San Diego County where [hip-hop artists] can play at for an all-age crowd. You can do house parties, but they always get rolled on by the police.”
– Ken Leighton