• CAMDEN – A federal court today issued a temporary restraining order to stop the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers shore protection project in Margate.

    The order came after Margate filed a legal suit in U.S. District Court to stop the state and Army Corps from building sand dunes on the city’s beach.

    The restraining order will prohibit the state from awarding any contracts or beginning construction until legal issues are resolved, according to a press release issued by the city today.

  • TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced Nov. 20 that Ventnor City would receive a $501,000 grant to restore historic City Hall. The building was one of four in Atlantic County selected for Sandy Disaster Relief Grants for Historic Properties to fund the preservation, stabilization, rehabilitation and repair of New Jersey historic structures that were damaged by the storm.

    Other Atlantic County structures awarded grants include Fire Station 3 in Atlantic City, which received $338,289, Fire Station 2 in Atlantic City $205,649 and Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point $102,400.

  • MARGATE – Local firefighters and EMS workers who routinely arrive at drug overdose calls are now carrying the life-saving antidote, naloxone.

    Chief Anthony Tabasso made the announcement at the Nov. 6 Board of Commissioners work session meeting.

  • MARGATE – City Clerk and Tax Collector Tom Hiltner will resign from both positions Jan. 1 and receive $260,000 payable in installments over the next two years as part of a settlement reached in his whistleblower lawsuit against the city.

    Under the agreement, the city will also give Hiltner $12,000 a year for the next eight years for health insurance, and pay $50,000 in attorney fees to Jacobs & Barbone, his attorneys.

  • MARGATE – Despite differences of opinion regarding the dunes issue, the Board of Commissioners Nov. 6 agreed to uphold the wishes of the voters and proceed with an effort to stop the state and Army Corps of Engineers from building sand dunes on the beach.

    Congratulating the advocacy group Margate Citizens Questioning the Beach Project, which lobbied to fight the dunes project, Commissioner Brenda Taube said she would join Commissioner Maury Blumberg and Mayor Michael Becker in support of voters who passed a nonbinding referendum Nov. 4 that asked if they wanted the city to spend up to $200,000 in legal fees to try to stop the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps from proceeding with the project. The unofficial vote count was 1,140 yes, 1,091 no. Provisional ballots are still being counted. Certification by the Atlantic County Clerk is expected Monday afternoon.

  • VENTNOR – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has awarded $230,000 in Post-Sandy Planning Assistance grants to help the city become more resilient to storms.

    Mayor Michael Bagnell said the grants will help the city plan for the future after several years of struggling with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, which flooded the city in October 2012.

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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