Goodbye, Proletariat

The Montrose clubhouse is closing. What now?

"I think Houston has a really great thing, and it's not recognized [nationally] because nobody here cares about being recognized nationally. We're over that," says Rosa Guerrero, local music photographer and cohost of KTRU's "Mutant Hardcore Flower Hour." "I think a lot of the nervousness that comes locally is people waiting for the other shoe to drop: 'Oh, it's all gonna blow up, it's all gonna be over.' We'll be okay as long as people don't sit around rubbing their hands waiting for something to happen. The truth is, there's been something happening here for many years."

Ramon Medina, Linus Pauling Quartet guitarist, Free Press Houston music writer and Guerrero's husband, thinks the Internet makes the scene much less dependent on any one venue. "There's so many ways people can connect to find out what's going on," he says. "That's what's really keeping things going. It used to be, 'Oh, I can just go down the street on Lexington and see what my buddies are doing.' All the blogs that are out there, there's enough stuff that you can actually follow what's going on and actually keep up with shows."

Wettergreen reels off a long list of Houston venues he thinks will offer haven to Proletariat refugees — many of which already do, be they bands or customers: White Swan, Rudyard's, Super Happy Fun Land (itself relocating from the Heights to Midtown this month), Kelvin Arms, Boondocks and the Orange Show. Guerrero feels Notsuoh downtown is a "very important, innovative place that gets overlooked most of the time." Ramos, herself an artist and musician, says, "I hope a lot of them do go over to Walter's [on Washington], because I understand and appreciate all the effort that Pam [owner Robinson] puts into the space." Once its indoor stage area is finished, Walter's across-the-street neighbor the Pearl Bar also seems like a natural destination for this crowd — especially since one of the building's former occupants was the legendary Mary Jane's.

A Rock Box crowd turns the Proletariat's beat around, circa 2005.
Matt Marrand
A Rock Box crowd turns the Proletariat's beat around, circa 2005.
Eric "O.G. Style" Woods passed last week at age 37.
Eric "O.G. Style" Woods passed last week at age 37.

If any one place seems preordained to inherit Proletariat's über-hip-yet-laid-back mantle, though, it has to be the Mink (3718 Main). It's got the pedigree: Proletariat booker Dunnock Woolford is headed there, as, after Monday's Proletariat finale, are KTRU's monthly DJ nights, where various Rice Radio jocks try their hands at live mixing. The Mink's deceptively spacious Backroom already hosts bands several times a month, with better sound than Proletariat and almost as much room.

Its downstairs lounge, familiar to many Rock Box DJs, can double as a music venue in a pinch, as it did last weekend when bands like Mathletes, Indian Jewelry, the Jonx and Papermoons packed upstairs, downstairs and the surrounding patio for the all-local, all-covers Hootenanny extravaganza — a show that, under different circumstances, would almost certainly have been at the Proletariat. Still, Ryan Clark, proprietor of Houston music blog The Skyline Network and one of Hootenanny's organizers, cautions against thinking everything will resolve itself so tidily.

"This is an organic process that took cultivation, time and luck, and when the last call to end all last calls is shouted, all these different individuals and groups aren't going to pick up and deposit themselves in some other club so neatly," he says. "There will be a scattering, and scatterings generally fall heavily on the 'does not rule' side of the road."

Eric "O.G. Style" Woods, 1970-2008

Eric Woods, a Houston rapper better known as "O.G. Style," was taken off life support by his family last Thursday night at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital after slipping into a coma believed to have been caused by a brain aneurysm for which Woods, 37, was admitted to St. Luke's Wednesday night. Woods grew up in Fourth Ward and began rapping around Houston as Prince Ezzy-E before meeting up with the producer/DJ known as Big Boss (who died from kidney failure in 2006), and forming the group O.G. Style, a name Woods later appropriated for his solo career when Big Boss left to form the group 4Deep.

In 1991, O.G. Style rose to regional fame with "Catch 'Em Slippin'," a dis of Rap-a-Lot artist Raheem that, ironically, got the group signed to Rap-a-Lot and continues to be cited as a seminal early example of Houston rap. blogger Noz calls I Know How to Play 'Em, the album that contains "Catch 'Em Slippin'," an "overlooked boom-bap classic that would have even the staunchest of Southern rap haters nodding his head." Woods remained active up to the time of his death, recently revamping his Web site,, and working on a new album with local rapper Smurk, which Woods's son Eric Jr. now says he will try to finish.

Eric Woods is also survived by his wife, Shelley; four other children; his father; and three siblings.

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