• VENTNOR – The City Commission, Planning Board and Planning and Zoning Department are considering changes to the zoning and building codes to address a number of issues.

    On Aug. 21, the commission asked the Planning Board to review zoning for the R-7 District, which is zoned single family. The commission is asking planners to consider allowing duplexes as a conforming use in the zone.

    According to Zoning Officer Jimmy Agnesino, the area was once zoned for multifamily dwellings, but in the 1990s the city rezoned it for single family only.

  • MARGATE – The city received confirmation Thursday, Sept. 4 that it has been awarded $360,000 in Post-Sandy Planning Grants. New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard E. Constabile III said the city will receive eight grants, ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 each, to identify areas where it can improve resilience to storms and promote economic development.

    City Administrator Richard Deaney announced the grant award at the Board of Commissioners’ 4 p.m. worksession meeting.

  • MARGATE – When local voters go to the polls for the Nov. 4 general election, they’ll get one more chance to decide if a legal battle to stop the dunes project is in Margate’s future.

    Following a 90-minute special meeting that brought out supporters and detractors of the fight to stop the pending dunes project, the Board of Commissioners passed two resolutions. One would put a question on the November ballot asking voters to spend $200,000 plus technical costs to sue the state and federal government to stop the project. The other would allow the city to hire an attorney to file an immediate injunction to stop the project.

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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