Join us for The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour Thursday, Oct. 31 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655). FREE admission.
Guests: Photographer Will Jacks (“Po’ Monkey’s – Portrait of a Juke Joint”) and guitar innovator Todd Mosby (“Dark Waters”)
Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers
Radio: WUMS 92.1 FM (Oxford)
Photographer Will Jacks’ latest book is Po’ Monkeys – Portrait of a Juke Joint (University Press of Mississippi). The book is a loving photographic tour of a quintessential juke joint, Po Monkey’s, located outside of Merigold, Mississippi, off an unmarked dirt road. Perhaps the most famous house in Mississippi and the last rural juke joint in the state, Po Monkey’s is now closed to the public.
Before the death of the lounge’s owner, Willie Seaberry, in 2016, it was a mandatory stop on the constant blues pilgrimage that flows through the Delta.
Seaberry ran Po’ Monkey’s Lounge for more than fifty years, opening his juke joint in the 1960s. A hand-built tenant home located on the plantation where Seaberry worked, Po’ Monkey’s was a place to listen to music and drink beer—a place to relax where everyone was welcomed by Seaberry’s infectious charm.
In Po’ Monkey’s: Portrait of a Juke Joint, photographer Will Jacks captures the juke joint he spent a decade patronizing. The more than seventy black-and-white photographs featured in this volume reflect ten years of weekly visits to the lounge as a regular—a journal of Jacks’ encounters with other customers, tourists, and Willie Seaberry himself.
An essay by award-winning writer Boyce Upholt on the cultural significance of the lounge accompanies the images. This volume explores the difficulties of preservation, historical context, community relations, and cultural tourism. Now that Seaberry is gone, the uncertainty of the future of his juke joint highlights the need for a historical record.
Will Jacks is a photographer, curator, storyteller, and educator of culture and relationships in the Mississippi Delta, the Lower Mississippi River region, and the American South. He teaches photography and documentary courses in the Mississippi Delta.
Todd Mosby is an acclaimed Indian jazz guitarist who has created a new musical syntax integrating Indian classical music and Western music, encompassing elements from classical, folk, bluegrass and jazz.
Mosby’s 13-year study of classical North Indian music with his neighbor and guru, ji Ustadt Imrat Khan, led to the development of acoustic and electric versions of the Imratgitar, a hybrid sitar-guitar bridge instrument for crossing musical platforms and cultures.
The design resembles a conventional guitar, but with the addition of a wing-like harp above the body to support a second set of sympathetic strings, which vibrate to produce additional harmonics. The imratgitar also includes a set of chikara strings, used to supply drones and rhythm, and a javari, a special type of bridge that imparts the buzzing tone commonly associated with the sitar.
Mosby’s latest album is Open Waters. The album concept is based on the elements of water in particular and the myth of Atlantis in general. His previous release was On Eagle Mountain. On March 3, 2020 the U City Orchestra in St. Louis will premiere three tone poems from the album.