Happy Birthday, Po' Monkey
Happy Birthday, Po' MonkeyAugust 23, 2012
This Friday, August 24, Willie Seaberry is celebrating his 72nd birthday. Most of the world knows him simply as Po’ Monkey, the proprietor of his namesake juke joint in Merigold, Mississippi.
All photos by Will Jacks
While magazine photographers from around the world have breezed through town on quick assignments, photographer Will Jacks is fortunate enough to live just down the dirt road and has been privileged to spend the last three years getting to know Seaberry long after the juke joint crowds and visiting photographers have gone home. In his photographs, Jacks shows us the man behind the music, the man who continues to work on the Hiter family farm—where he has been working for over fifty years— and the man whose home and juke joint are one in the same.
Seaberry opened Po’ Monkey’s Lounge in 1963, and today, Monkey’s is one of the last rural juke joints. It’s only officially open to the public on Thursday nights, but a few years ago, Jacks happened upon a non-Thursday night event—a surprise party celebrating Seaberry’s 70th birthday. However, no one—not even Po’ Monkey himself—was ever really certain that August 24 was his actual birth date. Since Seaberry had no birth certificate, it was decided (years ago) that his life would be celebrated at the end of August, and that plan stuck. But recently, thanks to some dedicated digging, a date has finally been confirmed Seaberry received the first birth certificate he can ever remember owning.
Check out a few of Will Jacks' photos from Willie's 70th surprise birthday celebration as well as images from his everyday life on the farm. And join us in wishing him a happy birthday.
Click here to see more of Will’s work at Po’ Monkey’s.
Video created by Ben Powell and Landry Gideon