Oct. 18, 2006 12:00
I don't think I'm overstating the sheer make-money-at-all-costs weirdness and depravity of this latest "show" at Grant Street Dancehall that only compromised the old haunt's hallowed past. I mean, midget wrestling? It's hard to believe the same place where Ray Charles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gregg Allman, Sonny Landreth and Robbie Krieger of The Doors performed is now a hall for midgets ' drunken midgets, according to the latest radio commercial ' to wrestle and do who knows what to each other.

I say "who knows what" because I didn't attend the event. I'm wondering what kind of person would, but that's a disability-rights issue I'd prefer to let someone else address, though I easily could.

No, my beef in this forum is that the new ownership of Grant Street ' our venerable rock-and-blues stomping grounds since the 1980s ' had the free-market-no-matter-what avarice to stage such a show at this particular downtown spot. Maybe this is only a problem for those of us who were in their 20s, 30s and 40s in the 1980s and saw Grant Street as the beautiful (though scorching hot) place it was for great live artists. Maybe we (I was in my 20s) possess an oversensitive ' arguably unwarranted ' proprietary ownership in Grant Street. But I thought it was a "dancehall" for musicians and, well, dancing.

Initially, I was so pleased with the way the new Grant Street was headed. I've seen Sonny, Jerry Lee Lewis and Robert Cray playing there. I recently walked in to find Lil' Buck Sinegal, Steve Riley and C.C. Adcock on the same smaller stage. Those were great shows. I love the new lounge, and the air conditioning is always nice. I was proudly sending leery friends there. But it's pretty difficult to champion a place that offers something called "The Half Pint Wrestlers."

I do realize it was a first-time deal. And we should always allow for the possibility of redemption, as the new owners rightfully have Dwight Yoakam and I'm sure other musical greats lined up. Still, if this midget gig makes a profit, you can bet the local manager ' who had promised he would be a steward of Grant Street's storied history ' will have his out-of-state corporate bosses demanding similar, shameful events.

I sincerely doubt the previous owners of Grant Street would have presented midget wrestling, an event that only sullied, however briefly, the reputation of our precious Grant Street Dancehall. They'd be embarrassed, as we all should be.