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Willie Seaberry on the steps of his famous house.

Po’ Monkey’s still silent a year after Seaberry’s death

By JACK WEATHERLY
jack.weatherly@msbusiness.com

Plans for reopening Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, a famous juke house in the Delta, are up in the air.

Daniel Morris, attorney for the Willie Seaberry estate, said in April that Seaberry’s heirs wanted to reopen the place around July 14, the anniversary of the death of Seaberry, aka Po’ Monkey.

That didn’t happen.

Closing out the Seaberry estate has taken longer than expected, Morris said in an interview last week.

“Once the estate is closed, we’ll be able to move a lot faster,” Morris said, adding that it might be another month before that happens. The estate was incorporated as Po’ Monkey’s Inc. on Feb. 8 as Po’ Monkey’s Inc., according to records at the Secretary of State’s office.

But the Hiter family, which owns the shack and the property it sits on in Bolivar County, has a say in the matter.

Park Hiter, who heads up the Hiter Farms Partnership, said on Tuesday that “we’re going to do something with it, I think. But I don’t know what for sure.” He said his sister has “lots of ideas.” Their hands are tied by the protracted estate settlement, he added.

While the Hiter family owns the land and the building, Seaberry owned everything in the tiny house, Morris said. Seaberry was a “life tenant” of the house near Merigold. “As long as he was alive, it was his place,” Morris said.

Seaberry’s place evolved into an institution and a stop on the Blues Trail, which crisscrosses the state.

“We don’t want his memory to die, because he meant so much to the Delta and Mississippi,” Morris said.

Po’ Monkey’s has been called one of the last authentic juke joints in the South. It drew visitors from across the United States and the world, who, if they came by on a Thursday, could partake of a bit of history.

Andrew Westerfield, longtime mayor of nearby Merigold, said in an earlier article that he had known Willie Seaberry since the early ‘60s.

“Monkey’s kinda grew out of a cotton field. For a very long time, it was primarily for people who worked on the farms. Westerfield said he and his friends started going there “and everyone got along great.”

“It rocked along like that; then, all of a sudden, it kind of got discovered in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when the blues came into vogue so much.”

Meantime, tourists still come by and get their picture taken next to the Blues Trail marker in front of the shack, though they can’t come in and experience a real juke joint.

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