• VENTNOR – The Board of Education agreed Wednesday, Oct. 22 to partner with Atlantic City in its effort to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize national competition, which carries a $5 million prize for the community that most effectively reduces its per-capita energy consumption over a two-year period starting Jan. 1, 2015.

    Action taken at the meeting will pave the way for other Downbeach communities to join Atlantic City in an interlocal agreement that benefits residents and helps the environment.

    Atlantic City is one of 52 municipalities nationwide that made it to the quarter-finals of the competition, which is designed to create a more energy efficient America. The prize challenges communities to incorporate innovative ideas to reduce energy consumption.

  • VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners Thursday, Oct. 15 introduced an amendment to the city’s salary ordinance to set into motion an intergovernmental transfer that would allow the city to hire an Atlantic City employee as its next emergency management coordinator.

    Longtime Emergency Management Coordinator William Melfi will retire in two weeks, Mayor Michael Bagnell said. He is currently using up his sick days and his last day of employment will be Nov. 1.

  • Margate engages DEP and Army Corps to discuss options to building dunes

    MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday, Oct. 16 that preserves the city’s rights in fighting the dunes project. The commission entered a “tolling and standstill” agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which will allow the municipality to negotiate alternatives to building sand dunes on Margate’s beach.

    Assistant Attorney General David C. Apy filed with the Atlantic County Clerk three administrative orders to effectuate a taking of partial easements not voluntarily granted by shorefront property owners, including the City of Margate, to build the dunes. The state will use its powers of eminent domain to negotiate good faith compensation due to 10 shorefront property owners and 16 riparian grant owners.

Albertson tells Jersey history through song and story

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Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa. Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa.

UPPER SALFORD TOWNSHIP, PA – One of the skills that comes naturally to legendary South Jersey performer Jim Albertson is improvisation. That tool came in handy and he used it effortlessly Saturday, Aug. 17 during Alberson’s first set during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival.

He said he expected more kids in attendance for his noon set sandwiched between two puppet shows on the kids’ stage in the shady Dulcimer Grove. It would be the first of two performances by Albertson that weekend.

Seeing mostly adults in the crowd he gave a disclaimer about the racial and sexist stereotypes that were commonplace nearly 100 years ago and then sang, “On the Boardwalk (in Atlantic City).”

Albertson, 70, of Millville has been the voice of the “Down Jersey” radio program for many years and he can be heard weekly at 9 p.m. on WVLT-FM 92.1. He began telling tall tales and singing the folksongs in 1965 on Steel Pier in Atlantic City when he began broadcasting “Jersey Folkline.”

Since then, Albertson has continued the tradition of telling New Jersey’s history through story, song and lecture as an active folk performer, teacher and festival coordinator throughout his home state.

“Some songs are just good songs,” Albertson said. “Adults or kids can enjoy them.”

When Albertson performs, he weaves his best stories in with a variety of songs that catch the attention of anyone within earshot.

Born and raised in Atlantic City, it is no surprise that Albertson didn’t have any trouble breaking into song about visiting Steel Pier or singing a portion of the Miss America theme by Bernie Wayne.

Albertson said although those aren’t necessarily folk songs in the traditional sense of the form, they do meet some of the criteria that many academics consider.

He said a folk song tells a story using a traditional rhythms and are passed on through oral tradition while the original author is largely unknown. They typically commemorate historical events, nature or people and are memorable.

“’This Land is Your Land’ is a good example,” Albertson said. “Your average Boy Scout doesn’t know Woody Gutherie.”

While Gutherie sang about America, Albertson is focused in carrying on the New Jersey folk life tradition. Albertson sang, “I’m looking for the pineys; oh where are the pineys.”

After hearing the crowd’s delight, Albertson spoke about the history of the A.J. Meerwald, the Delaware Bay oyster schooner designated as New Jersey’s official tall ship and sang, “We’re on our way, to the Delaware Bay.”

While he was on the subject of water, Albertson told his own version of the classic tale of Jonah and the whale except this time he was swallowed by a shark off the coast of New Jersey.

Albertson said his favorite local folk song is “Mount Holly Jail,” which he called the first folk song of New Jersey. It’s about how the food isn’t great and the conditions are worse.

He said it was a good song because kids like all the descriptions of how bad the food is, which one youngster in the crowd equated to his school cafeteria food, and there’s plenty for adults to enjoy too.

Albertson sang, “There’s one other fellow I’d like you to know/ Every Sunday morning we get Preacher Joe/ It’s hard times in the Mount Holly Jail/ It’s hard times in the Mount Holly Jail/ He’ll stand up real straight and the truth he will tell/ To save all the prisoners from going to… Atlantic City… Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.”

Part of the folk tradition is adding to it. Albertson has performed in the bluegrass band, the Bottle Hill Boys and his recording “Down Jersey,” released in 1985, is on the Smithsonian Institution’s Folkways Records. He has served as the president of the New Jersey Folklore Society and has received the New Jersey Folk Festival’s award for distinguished contribution to folk music in the state. And he is still contributing.

While singing “Good Fish Chowder,” Albertson added the lyrics about how Mike Trout, the greatest baseball player who has ever lived, came into Jim’s Lunch in Millville and ordered up six cheeseburgers and washed them down with some good clam chowder.

Archives of Down Jersey can be found at www.wvlt.com/downjersey.html

Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa. Jim Albertson sings during the 52nd annual Philadelphia Folk Festival Saturday, Aug. 17 in Upper Salford Township, Pa.


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