Those who are regular readers of this blog and followers of my work will recall that I regularly talk about the importance of creative (personal) projects. I believe that regularly creating is the best way to sharpen your skill set from both a technical and conceptual standpoint.
The photo set I am featuring today is the result of such a personal project.
William Seaberry is a 72 year old full time farmer from Merigold, MS. But driving a tractor in the fertile fields of the Delta are not his claim to fame. Mr. Seaberry has been running the world renowned juke joint, Poor Monkey's Lounge, in his home since 1963.
Known affectionately by the locals simply as, Po' Monkey, Mr. Seaberry is the friendly face of the historic Mississippi Blues Trail site.
"My name is Willie Seaberry, but don't nobody know nothing 'bout Willie Seaberry. Everybody just know Po' Monkey," Mr. Seaberry states when asked his name.
One of the last remaining juke joints in operation in the Mississippi Delta, Poor Monkey's Lounge draws visitors and blues enthusiasts from around the world.
During my visit, I witnessed several vehicles with out of state license plates pulling up outside the old sharecropper's shack that houses the juke joint and doubles as Mr. Seaberry's home. Those in the car would get out and take turns making each other's photo in front of the historic building before moving along to wherever their next destination might be.
Poor Monkey's Lounge is certainly a world famous establishment that has been photographed many times over by the likes of such photographers as Annie Leibovitz. It has been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, and books. The dilapidated building that houses the historic juke joint is instantly recognizable by blues enthusiasts around the globe.
However, the story I hoped to tell with my images was that of a quiet, selfless, hard working man. A man who still drives a tractor daily at the age of 72, but is committed to keeping his beloved juke joint open one night a week because when asked why he does it he says, "people sure do love this place."
Operating what has become a world famous juke joint in his home since 1963 has not made William Seaberry a rich man. It is clear however, that doing so has enriched both his life and the lives of the many who have visited this tiny club on the side of a dirt road in the Mississippi Delta. I know I feel lucky to have spent the day with the man.
Thank you Mr. Seaberry.