Juke Joint: Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, Merigold, Miss.

  • Article by: JERRY HOLT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2007 - 10:36 PM

A stream of red taillights cuts through dark cotton fields. Dust kicks up on a tired gravel road. A string of lights illuminates a former sharecropper shack. It must be Thursday night in Merigold, Miss., the one night a week that Po’ Monkey’s Lounge opens for business.

Po’ Monkey’s is the kind of authentic place you feel lucky to visit. It’s nothing someone created to be a tourist attraction. These kinds of juke joints — where people convene after a long day of work to play and hear music — are all over Mississippi.

Most grew up organically, by folks gathering with friends and playing guitar in someone’s front yard. This one has been drawing crowds since 1961. And everyone is welcome. “People of all races come,” owner Willie Seaberry said with pride. “This is the most integrated place on the Delta.”

If you go: Memphis is the closest big city to Po’ Monkey’s; the drive from there takes about an hour and a half. Clarksdale, Miss., home of the Delta Blues Museum, is about a half-hour away.

From either city, head south on Hwy. 61, stop at the corner store in Merigold and ask for directions. Otherwise, you may never find it.

The party starts around 8:30 p.m., Thursdays only.

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