Houston Music History

A WORLD OF OUR OWN: MYDOLLS AND THE HOUSTON PUNK SCENE (2016)

On July 28, 2016, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) presented A World of Our Own: Mydolls and the Houston Punk Scene, an interview with Texas first-wave punk band MYDOLLS (1978-present), SugarHill Recording Studios President and producer Dan Workman and Wild Dog ArchivesMydolls discussed their nearly four-decade-long career recording, touring, and producing records; their DIY ethos and cultural impact; and their role as community leaders working to empower women and musicians of all ages. Following the discussion, Mydolls performed a live concert in the Museum gallery.

CAMH also displayed collected ephemera and materials from the band’s archives in the Museum’s Cullen Education Resource Room. Admission was free and open to the public.

Select artifacts from Mydolls curated by Max Fields and organized by Wild Dog Archives (2016).

Part of the music-based lecture series 20HERTZ, this presentation is held in conjunction with Mark Flood: Gratest Hits20HERTZ is a lecture series conceived around themes of musical influence in everyday life. The series asks artists, musicians, and all-around-creatives to share the music that has influenced them throughout their lives.

Watch a video of the lecture, courtesy of CAMH.

FLYER BY BARRY ELKANICK; COURTESY OF CAMH.

FLYER BY BARRY ELKANICK; COURTESY OF CAMH.

ANARCHO-PUNKS ORGANIZE FIRST ROCK AGAINST RACISM CONCERT AT UH (1979)

Led by a sociology student named Henry Weissborn, the three-member strong Direct Action Committee (DAC) at the University of Houston began organizing “Be-In” events in the spirit of the previous decade’s counterculture. Also know by the Youth International Party’s moniker “Yippies,” Weissborn, brothers Jeff and Dave Stewart and their fellow activist party banded together with some of Houston’s earliest punk bands to produce these underground music gigs.

There is cut-and-paste evidence that legendary Houston punk progenitors Really Redand Legionaire’s Disease performed at Yippie-organized Be-Ins, including an outdoor event held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park, which drew a massive crowd of around 500 supporters, according to a report in Weissborn’s first DIY publication, ULTRA magazine.

Houston’s student Yippie chapter planned to launch the city’s first Rock Against Racism event on campus as documented on this flyer promoting ULTRA, but the “free rock and reggae” campus event was called off. The show took place instead at Paradise Island on April 1, 1979. Among some of the classic punk bands performing for the first time were AK-47 and Vast Majority, two of Houston’s most radical.

ORIGINAL FLYER COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

ORIGINAL FLYER COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

ISLAND DOES AVANT GARDE, CLUB MOD, & DADA AS PROTOPUNK ‘MOVEMENT’ (1980)

Selected local happenings from 1980 as chronicled in the "History of Houston Punk" series — part recollection, part oral history –published by PUNX in 1986.

TRANSCRIPT

“The Punk/Avant Garde connection is highlighted by a show at Rock Island…reportedly the best acoustic production ever held at the Island. The bands include the Ruse, Spermwhale, and Polyphony.”

"In April is the premiere of a new venue, the ‘ultimate hole in the wall’: Club Mod. The Tix host the Throb Prom at this dingy warehouse on Milam St…which has a single light hanging precariously from the ceiling. This party highlights the difference between sixties and eighties psychedelia: black and white nihilist clones in urban cage, but human nonetheless. Other bands to play here later are the Huns, Killerwatts, and Vast Majority."

"September 19 is a show of the Big Boys with Really Red at the Island. The Big Boys also play the Parade and Spit, and at the Spit, the management apparently does not like Biscuit’s brand of weirdness and pulls the plug."

"On 10-15 there is a Post feature, 'Punks, Wavers, and Posers': interviews with W. Wolff, Christian Arnheiter, David Bean, Margaret Moser, Dick Long, Henry Weissborn, etc."

"October's issue of XLR8 features the first of two parts: 'After the New Wave,' which is a fascinating and intellectual look at punk and new wave. It explores the protopunk movements of Dada, juvenile delinquency, and the street fighters of the sixties. It concludes with a positive encouragement for us to face the political and aesthetic challenge before us with integrity and individuality."

"On Halloween an art-space at 3221 Milam plays host to Culturcide and Really Red."

"On December 15, WILD DOG #4 is published and the Derailers make their club debut at the Parade…the club cuts them off early. This is the last punk show at Parade."

ORIGINAL ZINE IMAGES COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

ORIGINAL ZINE IMAGES COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

PEEL TALKS TEXAS PUNK, SPINS MYDOLLS’ ‘IN TECHNICOLOR’ ON BBC RADIO (1982)

EPHEMERA COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

EPHEMERA COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

TRANSCRIPT

In January 1982, MYDOLLS took a holiday in London and were interviewed on the JOHN PEEL RADIO PROGRAM on BBC-1. Peel’s show came about in the mid-seventies and has since given first chances to now-renowned musicians. “Peely” spun IN TECHNICOLOR and expressed a great interest in the Texas music scene.

The fall of 1983 heralded further intimations of success: the band appears in a scene of Wim Wenders’ film PARIS, TEXAS, starring Nastassja Kinski, which won the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1984. Shot on location in Port Arthur, Texas, the film has MYDOLLS performing A WORLD OF HER OWN off their recent 12″ 45 EP SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK. 

IMAGERY OF REVOLT: AK-47’S THE BADGE AND THE MACHINE MANDALA (1980)

IMAGERY OF REVOLT: AK-47’S THE BADGE AND THE MACHINE MANDALA (1980)

One of the most iconic records to come out of the first wave Houston punk scene, AK-47’s The Badge Means You Suck (/Kiss My Machine, 1980) was a protest anthem against Houston’s Police Department, which had a documented history of racism and extreme violence during the 1970s.

DEAD KENNEDYS SHUT DOWN THE ISLAND (1983)

Dead Kennedys headlined the last show at the Island, Houston's original first wave punk venue, on May 14, 1983.

According to “A History of Houston Punk Rock Fanzines” by Henry Wild Dog, which was published in PUNX, the Island officially closed in April 1983. The club was reopened for this solo performance, according to promoter Tom Bunch who designed the flyer for the show.

FLYER DESIGNED BY TOM BUNCH; COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

FLYER DESIGNED BY TOM BUNCH; COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

JOSEFUS AND AN END TO LSD-LACED ORANGES AT MILBY PARK (1970)

Prior to Houston’s first wave punk scene, the city held its own during the psychedelic underground of the late 1960s, with legendary venues such as Love Street Light Circus downtown and its own version of Woodstock in Milby Park on the weekends.

Local psych and garage rock bands performed for free on the rolling hill where nearby trees concealed coolers full of LSD-laced oranges. The venue at Milby Park ended abruptly, once again under the boot of an antagonistic HPD.

Formed in Houston in 1969, Josefus was a latecomer to the Houston psychedelic circuit, which included 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, two of the most notable Texas acts from this era. Playing at Milby Park and other local venues, Josefus’ darker experimental sound bridged acid rock and blues-infused Southern rock; however, the sound was not harmonious with Summer of Love psychedelia.

Dead Man, the band’s first full length album, was released in 1970. While the band dissolved shortly after this debut, it was revived again in 1978 with a new lineup, and Josefus released several singles on its own Hookah label. Josefus continues to perform sporadically as of 2013.

Simultaneous to Houston’s earliest punk bands, WILD DOG zine acknowledged the garage and psych rock music that influenced — yet created a rift within — the newest wave.

MEDIA COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

MEDIA COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.