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Nightclubs in San Marcos offering live music have had an uneven history. The Longshot closed in September 2006, mainly over ABC violations. The Boulevard, opened in 2004, also had its liquor license suspended for a time and then closed last year.

The Jumping Turtle now focuses on heavy-metal shows, while the Cow Shed Bar and Grill, across the street from the Turtle, has been hosting occasional hip-hop and country events. “The shows have gotten much easier to promote [and have had] a much bigger turnout,” says Joe Troutman, who books the Jumping Turtle. “The police have been supportive, as long as we’re following the rules. As far as the most difficult aspect, well, I guess we’re getting a little overwhelmed with shows. This month, I’m doing 13 national touring packages. It does make me a little nervous to fill the obligations.”

Troutman, who also booked the defunct Longshot, says San Marcos has a geographical advantage over urban San Diego. “It’s very accessible to people from Riverside, Orange County, and L.A. County. They appreciate the 20 to 30 minutes they save from making the drive to San Diego. I think only about 30 percent of our patrons are actually from the North County Inland area.”

Being a metal club also comes with disadvantages. “Watain, from Sweden, is a black-metal band that carries several decaying cow and goat heads, which they keep with their gear. They’re really big on having a nauseating show.… Their equipment during load-in reeked. I felt like I could see a green cloud covering the inside of the club, and my bartender, Lori, was green in the face all day. Right before they went on stage, they covered themselves in real blood.”

“The smell was so strong, even for them, that they ran off stage to vomit in the bushes.” Forbidden and Cage play the Jumping Turtle on Friday, March 27.

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