It was Renee’s thirty-year love affair with the Mississippi Delta and her gracious invitation to the rest of us that led the women of F/4 studio with their cameras to North Mississippi to follow the Mississippi Blues Trail and photograph a slice of the story embedded in the soil, the air, and the people in this part of the world.
For an immersion in the complex and intriguing blues history of the area, we on our first night, joined Mr. Willie Seaberry, at his Delta juke joint, Po’ Monkeys’. After following a washboard dirt road off a rural highway and proceeding slowly alongside a bayou, we arrived at Po’ Monkey’s, a small, well-lit shack anchored at the edge of a corn field, to be welcomed with gracious hospitality by Willie Seaberry himself.
The state marker in front of the establishment indicated that rural juke joints played an integral role in the development of the blues, offering a distinctly secular space for people to socialize, dance, and forget their everyday troubles. While many such jukes once dotted the cotton fields of the Delta countryside, Po’ Monkey’s is one of the relatively few to survive into the 21st century. Initially frequented by locals, Po’ Monkey’s became a destination for blues tourists from around the world during the 1990’s.
A typical juke joint included a pool table, beer posters and other paraphernalia stapled to the walls, and Christmas lights strung across the ceiling. The decor at Po’ Monkey’s did not disappoint!
Once a place where African Americans socialized, a diversity of people now gather for evenings of pool, music, and good times with friends. And so it was for us. On our first evening we were introduced to the Delta in grand style.
Submitted by Sharon Brown Christopher