The sad news came to me via a Facebook posting from a friend.
Willie Seaberry, AKA Po’ Monkey and owner of Po’ Monkey’s juke joint, from Merigold, MS had passed away last Thursday.
I only met him once — while photographing Kate and John’s Mississippi Delta wedding in June of 2006 — but I will never forget him or that wedding.
He was personable, funny, charming — a true character.
He changed his clothes on the day of the wedding on the hour. His granddaughter was an attendant at the wedding and he had friends him and the joint during throughout the day.
When I met him a few hours before the wedding, he was wearing a blue t-shirt, for the wedding he wore a bright red suit, later a white suit, later still a grey suit to eventually wearing a t shirt at the end of the night with a straw hat!
He was no “stand in the background” host by any means. He witnessed the wedding, and then partied with the family and guests because he was like family.
He and his juke joint were famous for their blues and for the hospitality he bestowed upon his guests.
Photo greats including Annie Leibovitz and William Albert Allard photographed Willie and the juke joint when they did stories on the blues scene in the Mississippi Delta.
As far as I know, Kate and John’s wedding was the only wedding that was ever held at Po’ Monkeys (but I could be wrong).
It was a wonderful day — cool and clear — not a drop of humidity in the air. The wedding was held in the open by a stand of trees, the reception held under a marquee pitched on the grass.
Guests were bussed to the location because it was in the middle of a cotton field accessible from a dirt road.
What an event — the memories of which I will never forget. Thanks Willie Seaberry for making that possible.
Willie Seaberry, aka Po’ Monkey, rest in peace.
John Martin, the groom, who knew Willie well, wrote a fantastic tribute that appeared here: