Here's to You, Pam Robinson: Musicians Rally Around Beloved Walters Owner
Texas has a lot of history, and for better or worse, we're damn proud of it. So it's no surprise that Houstonians grow attached to their places and things, and Walters is no exception.
Photo by Larami Culbertson The Freakouts at Walters downtown, shortly after the new club opened in early 2012
This past Saturday, August 10, news began to spread that Walters owner Pam Robinson had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, according to an update on the venue's Facebook page. But if Robinson has taught us anything over the past couple of decades, it's that she's a fighter, and this is just another battle she's going to win.
And thanks to Robinson's supportive family, Walters' staff and the help of Houston's music scene, the downtown club will host a three-day benefit from Sept. 6-8 to help raise money and take off some of the financial burden.
Earlier this morning Rocks Off had the pleasure of speaking with Robinson, who shared that she is currently undergoing chemotherapy and "very aggressive" gamma-ray radiation.
"I had no symptoms," Robinson says. "I went in for a bad backache, and they told me I had arthritis, but none of it was working. Around the end of June my doctor told me, 'Well, Ms. Robinson, it seems you don't have arthritis, you have cancer.'"
According to Robinson, she had "tumors everywhere," including her ankles, knees, arms and back -- which explains the back pain.
Leave it up to Houstonians to stand up and join the cause.
In a little under 48 hours, Walters' Facebook status had already reached 15,000 people through shares, likes and comments.
"It's been overwhelming," says Kat Keeter, who works on the booking and management team at Walters. "We've had so many people step forward to offer their time or to donate to the benefit, and it just reiterated what an impact she's had on the Houston music scene."
The Suffers' front woman, Kam Franklin, agrees.
"She put bands on bills when no one else would. When other venues banned punk and hardcore acts, she welcome them with open arms," says the singer. "While the opportunities have opened at other venues since then, Pam and Walters have remained consistent."
Franklin has a point.
Walters and Robinson -- who started Walters as Walter's On Washington around 2003, the latest in a line of Robinson-owned venues including Silky's and Mary Jane's -- have a reputation of taking a chance on people. Or rather, giving them a chance to shine. For a long time, it was the only venue booking shows that represented every age and genre. For instance, that weekend in June when they were the only venue willing to host a Juggalo Gathering the same weekend as local rapper B L A C K I E. And truth be told, it might still be.
"We wouldn't be where we are without the help from Pam and Walters, and I'm sure a lot of Houston bands feel the same," says Mikey Seals, lead vocalist of Bury the Crown. "Pam and Walters have done so much for us without even batting an eye, and she has treated us with the utmost respect. When we found out about Pam, we wanted to do what we could to show our appreciation."
But as excited as they are to offer their time, the Suffers and Bury the Crown aren't the only ones.
Story continues on the next page.