Curating Texas Pop Culture & Houston First Wave Punk
Wild Dog Archives is a digital archive documenting the history behind a legacy collection of 50+ years of Texas counterculture, underground music and punk zine ephemera. The project, known as Wild Dog Archives, creates a narrative for Houston Punk through the collected artifacts of Henry Wild Dog, who launched Houston's first punk fanzine in 1979. That year, Henry Wild Dog and the University of Houston (UH) Direct Action Committee/Yippie chapter organized a Rock Against Racism (RAR) outdoor concert/event initially scheduled to take place on the UH campus. Instead, Houston’s first RAR concert was held at Paradise Island (aka the Island), a dive club located in downtown Houston and the city's premier punk venue, on April 1, 1979. Houston’s vanguard punk bands Really Red and Legionaire’s Disease performed with Christian Oppression (The Hates), Vast Majority and AK 47, kicking off the city's first wave punk scene.
Wild Dog Archives’ vision is that the subcultural objects (original punk zines, flyers, media) comprising the collection have merit in the ranks of Texas pop culture, and that this history should be preserved for future generations to discover Houston’s underground arts and culture and music scenes.
This digital archive/humanities preservation effort serves as a conduit for sharing rare and out-of-print materials connected to the national underground music scenes happening in the 1960s-’80s. Each artifact was researched to uncover hidden histories and historic information about the sociopolitical and cultural events of the time.
A sampling of the archive includes original punk zines from Houston and throughout the country; flyers and press materials; letters and communications; past gigs on both audio and video cassette; interviews with a variety of local and national punk bands; a wide variety of ephemera from the Texas psych-rock scene of the late 1960s showcasing bands such as the 13th Floor Elevators and Roky Erickson’s later performances at the Island; and volumes of international/national music magazines and fanzines, including a full run of San Francisco’s Beat-funded punk zine Search & Destroy published by City Lights as well as Houston’s own Space City!, one the earliest alternative/underground newspapers covering the counterculture and progressive politics in Texas. Cataloging of the collection is ongoing.
Photos: Henry Wild Dog dancing in a crowd at a Big Boys show at the Island, 1980, by Ben DeSoto