Beachcomber Fall Guide

24th Pine Barrens Jamboree at Wells Mills; Albert Hall Saturday Nights

Sep 21, 2018

The 24th annual Pine Barrens Jamboree, which promises “down home melodies and memories,” will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Wells Mills County Park, 905 Wells Mills Rd. (Route 532) in Waretown.

The jamboree, sponsored by the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Pinelands Cultural Society, will offer music of the Pines (lineup to be announced), cultural demonstrations and lectures, traditional crafts and crafters, kids crafts and games, nature and history programs, food and “much more.” Here’s a sure inducement for the rain or shine event – parking, shuttle buses and admission are free!

Folks in the know are aware that the official jamboree may end at 4:30, but the fun will continue later that evening. Four miles east, Albert Music Hall, which is operated by the Pinelands Cultural Society, will be presenting, as it does every Saturday night every week of the year, a night of music from 7:30 to 11 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). The 350-seat concert hall shows cost only $5 for adults and $1 for children 11 years of age and younger. The Saturday night concerts typically present six sets of bluegrass, country and Pinelands music.

Albert Music Hall is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible, and offers refreshments and gifts for sale. It is located a short distance west of Route 9 at 131 Wells Mills Rd., next to Priff Elementary School.

The lineup for Oct. 13 has North Country playing from 7:30 to 8, Pro Grass from 8 to 8:30, Grassland from 8:30 to 9, and George Zeo & Family from 9 to 9:30. There will be a 30-minute intermission before Crab Grass takes over the stage from 10 to 10:30. The action will then move to the Pick’n Shed, where a jam will take place, the most popular set for many Albert Hall regulars, especially musicians who get to join in the fun.

Albert Music Hall is practically synonymous with Piney music. In 1898, Joseph Albert was born, to be followed by brother George a year later. In the 1950s the brothers started holding Saturday night musical gatherings in their “Home Place,” a deer lodge cabin located on a 51-acre plot in the Pinelands west of Waretown. The cabin had no running water or electricity, but it did have Joe playing the washtub bass and George the fiddle.

In 1974, a year after George passed away, the first Albert Hall was founded by musicians and fans in the Waretown Auction Building. In 1975, the Pinelands Cultural Society was formed. Pete Seeger performed in both 1976 and 1980 to help raise money for a new building. In 1987 Joe Albert died, and in 1988 the “Home Place” was vandalized.

The Waretown Auction Building burned to the ground in 1992. Shows temporarily continued in the parking lot and then moved to the Frederic Priff School through December 1996. In January 1997, the current Albert Music Hall opened, with 45 bands performing and over 1,100 people attending, attracting an article in the New York Sunday Times.

The 100,000th person attended a show in the new Albert Hall on Oct. 11, 2003. The 150,000th fan attended a show on Aug. 19, 2006, while the 200,000th person took in a June 13, 2009, concert. On Sept. 22, 2012, the 250,000th person walked through Albert Hall’s front door!

If you’ve never seen an Albert Hall show, you’re missing something. They’re family friendly, relaxed, and you never know when you’ll see and hear a world-class banjo, fiddle or mandolin player.

So, take in the 24th annual Pine Barrens Jamboree to get a taste of Piney music (its musicians are provided by the Pinelands Cultural Society) and come back often to Albert Hall to fill up on bluegrass, country and old-timey tunes.

— Rick Mellerup

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