A Mississippi Delta Landmark - Po Monkeys Lounge Merigold, Mississippi

April 03, 2015  •  2 Comments

The music is kicking....

The monkeys hanging from the ceiling are swaying.....as are some of the patrons.....

....and Willie "Po Monkey" Seaberry is doing what he loves and has done for over 50 years....

...hosting a group of locals and others from all over the world at his place, Po Monkey's Lounge in the Mississippi Delta.

Po Monkeys Lounge or Juke Joint, featured on the Mississippi Blues Trail, sits at the edge of a cotton field on a dirt road just outside of Merigold, Mississippi.  Merigold is one of those Delta towns that was bypassed by the new Highway 61 several years ago.  Not only is it famous because of Po Monkey's it is also the home of McCarty's Pottery which is known for its trademarked "river," a small black wavy line representing the Mississippi River.

Every time I am in the area I go by Po Monkeys to shoot a few photographs.  If I'm there on a Thursday night then I always pay the $5 cover and go inside to rub shoulders with those that frequent the place and to also chat with Po Monkey himself.  Mr. Seaberry is quite the character and each time I've been he has been in a different "costume," if you want to call it that.  Those costumes along with quite a selection of suits, wigs and other accessories make him one of the most interesting individuals I have ever met.

Back in November of 2014 I had a group of friends from all over the country down so I could show them the allure of the people, music and food of the Mississippi Delta.  Our accommodations for the weekend were at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  In addition to sampling the music and food of the Delta, I took a group on a photo tour of the "most Southern place on earth."   Cort Anderson a photographer friend from Kansas and one of the best black and white photographers I know led another group in the depths of the Delta.

The first time Cort came down to shoot in the Delta I took him to Po Monkeys.  Luckily for us, Mr. Seaberry had just arrived from a day of working on the farms and was getting ready to open the place for the evening.  He invited us in and gave us the grand tour.  Another friend from Delaware, Dave Wolanski comes down at least once a year to go with me into the Delta to photograph.  He was here in 2012 for a weekend and of course, I had to take him to Po Monkey's. The place looks totally different than it does at night.

The photograph below was made on the 2012 trip with Dave.  The signs on the front of the building are just as well known as the joint itself. Click the photo to see it larger.

If you are ever in the Mississippi Delta and are close to Merigold, Mississippi, make plans to stop and pay Monkey a visit. It will be an experience you will never forget.

I promise.  Right Dave?

Po' Monkey's Lounge - Merigold, MississippiPo' Monkey's Lounge - Merigold, MississippiOne of the oldest remaining juke joints in the Mississippi Delta is Po Monkey's Lounge near Merigold, Mississippi. It is an iconic stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Po Monkey's has been owned and operated by Willie "Po Monkey" Seaberry for over 55 years and is only open on Thursday night. Mr. Seaberry says that Thursday night is "family night" and he wants to keep it safe for everyone. Beer is served to those of legal age and you can bring in your own liquor. A DJ spins the music each night it is open and on special occasions live blues music can be heard booming from within.

The old converted sharecropper shack with its American flag proudly waving under a beautiful blue sky with a wisp of clouds sits at the edge of a expansive cotton field. There are tons of stuffed monkeys hanging from the ceiling, a testament from those that have visited over the years. Even the signs hanging on the front tell a unique story.

 


Comments

2.Dave(non-registered)
the Delta is certainly an amazing place. It's just kind of gets into you. I'm looking forward to more excursions and visits to Po Monkeys!
1.Debi(non-registered)
I can attest to the awesomeness of Po Monkeys. Willie was so accommodating to the likes of 12 photographers converging into his establishment. As I came back in with my alter ego "Large Marge", Willie joined right in and kept coming back with his own costumes.

He runs a tight ship there, so don't plan on any "monkey" business (pun intended) or you will be shown the door. We danced with the locals and had such a great time!!!

Thanks Lowry for showing us the true Delta. It is an experience I will never, EVER forget. I still talk about it.
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