The delta is beginning to cool off in mid-October as the hot fall sun goes down across the endlessly flat fields of cotton in full bloom. And nestled in the oceans of white cotton crops, an ancient, tiny sharecropper shack that boasts cold beer and low ceilings with monkeys nailed to it heats up the delta during Bridging The Blues. The sound of a screaming harmonica rolls across the fields towards the nearby Mississippi River, courtesy of the All Night Long Blues Band, and a man affectionately nicknamed “Poor Monkey” smiles as he throws on wild outfits and jokes with the patrons.
Dozens of cars are parked on the side of the road, and as excited blues fans bounce up the unforgivingly steep steps to the dilapidated door that has a hand-painted note warning “no drugs or lounld music”. Inside the tiny room that Po’ Monkey calls home during the day and a night club on the right nights, people of all races, nationalities, creeds and sizes bounce their heads to hill country and delta vibes from the “stage” — a pocket of building haphazardly tacked on to the house sometime in the last century. But as some of the taller patrons duck the dozens of stuffed monkeys, disco balls, and christmas lights hanging from the already low ceiling, every person in the building is having the time of their lives.
This is Po’ Monkeys; famous worldwide and quite possibly one of the last original juke joints on the planet. The old sharecropper shack, made of salvaged plywood, rusty tin, pieces of shingle, and lovingly held together with hundreds of posters, newspaper cutouts, string lights, and half-working neon beer signs, has endlessly charming blues and delta culture seeping from every square inch.
People dance and laugh and enjoy themselves like there’s no tomorrow. Someone passes around deceptively smooth moonshine from a recycled milk jug jug to some new friends. A young couple says they’re from France and they came to the delta to experience everything it had to offer.
In Po’ Monkey’s Lounge, they experience the very best of it in a few hundred square feet.