Old-fashioned Delta party planned
by Aimee Robinette
May 11, 2012 | 3795 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For many tourists, Po'Monkey's is a unique look inside the Mississippi Delta's juke joint history.

For locals, it is an institution that must be kept alive at all costs.

That's why the Merigold Society of Possum Kicker and Skeet Shooters formed.

"The society is a group of gentlemen and debutantes, brought together by a shared love of Delta heritage, historic preservation, good music, strong cocktails, and roasted pig meat," Mike Carr, one of the founding members, said.

"Noting the decline in popularity of the numerous dances and balls which occurred in the age of our forefathers, the society’s mission is to maintain this essential element of proper etiquette exchange, being our sworn duty living in the most southern place on earth.”

On Saturday from 2 p.m.-until, the society will host its inaugural Southern Etiquette Exchange at Po'Monkey's.

This one day event will include live music both inside and outside, featuring Shea Skeen and Craig Adams, On the Run Band and '70s Rock Explosion. Jason Campbell will run the sound all day.

As with any good Southern party, barbecue, crawfish and libations will be available for purchase.

The event is free, but donations are appreciated as any and all will go towards the preservation of the infamous juke joint.

Katie Byrd, the brainchild of the event, said she remembers growing up with her parents attending old-fashioned Southern parties.

"There are pictures of them decked out in costumes and formals," she added. "We just don't celebrate life like that anymore. No one has parties on that scale. I have wanted to have a big Delta party for no reason. I just needed to get the right people on board."

Byrd did. She found a whole slew of Delta folks who understood her mission.

Society members include: Scott Coopwood, Jeff Byrd, Shea House, Paige Norquist, Arnold Luciano. John Armstrong, Stephanie McGarrh, Ely Weeks and Mike Carr.

"The idea came from a bunch of us just talking one day about how we needed to have a spring party - but we wanted to have one for a cause," said Carr. "Not a major undertaking, just a simple little thing that could make a difference."

Po'Monkey's soon became the cause.

"Ely Weeks mentioned that the roof area over the stage at Po Monkey’s leaked every time it rained, and maybe we could raise money for that," Carr added. "Everyone here knows what a historical place Po Monkey’s is, and an obvious tourist destination in Bolivar County as one of the last remaining true juke joints, so we settled on that.

"We all just take Po Monkey’s for granted because it’s always been there," he said. "People come from all over the nation and world to see it. It needs to be preserved and parts of it are falling in. So we created the 'Society' to help raise money for that."

Carr jokingly added that there are no particular membership requirements for the society.

"It’s just a group of us who, while maybe having nothing else in common, simply enjoy going out to Po Monkey’s every once in awhile and having a good time," he said. "We are calling the party the 'Southern Etiquette Exchange,' as nothing says true Southern etiquette like throwing a party at a juke joint in the middle of a cotton field wearing your finest."

Ely Weeks, who came up with the Southern Etiquette Exchange name, said for him it was always very simple.

"We always wanted to keep it simple," he said. "Po'Monkey's is the one place everyone can go to and it's always O.K. There is never any trouble and everyone gets along.

"The name Southern Etiquette Exchange sort of pokes fun at our formal heritage," he said. "People used to love to have parties and get all dressed up. We are doing just that — Delta-style. You know, a 'ball' on the side of a gravel road."

Weeks said they plan to keep this as an annual event, which suits Katie Byrd just fine.

"I am so glad they want to make it an annual celebration," she said.

For owner Willie Seaberry, this party is just another day in the life of Po'Monkey's. The place is always accommodating, always ready for any celebration that is put before it.

Getting a new roof is just a perk, a way the universe gives back to those who are true to it.

Weeks said the roof is simply to keep rain off the musicians and their equipment.

"We have no plans of changing anything about the structure itself," he said. "If we did, then it wouldn't be Po'Monkey's. We just wanted to make it safe and comfortable for the bands."

"This is nothing fancy," Byrd added. "It's laid back. I just don't want to look back at my own life and wonder why I didn't make this kind of effort."

If you can't make it to the Southern Etiquette Exchange, you can still make a donation. Send them to: Merigold Cabinetry, 152 Beevers Rd., Merigold, MS, 38759.