Larry O'Gaff (1)
X:1 T:Larry O’Gaff  is the Boy M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:John Rook music manuscript collection (Waverton, Cumbria, 1840, p. 217) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Dmix (3A/B/c/|DDD FDD|ABA AFD|GBG FAF|EFE GAB| dDD FDD|ABA AFD|GBG FAF|EDE D2:| |:A|ABc dcd|efe ecA|Gce efg|fdd d2e| fdd ecc|dcB AGF|GBG FAF|EDE D2:|]
LARRY O'GAFF  (Lamrais Ua Gabaig). AKA - "Larry O'Gaff is the boy." AKA and see "Bundle and Go (2)," "Daniel O'Connell," "Duke's Delight (The)," "Gigue de la Débauche," "Here's to the Creature," "Hob or Nob," "Making Babies by Steam," "O'Gaff's Jig." Irish, English, American, Canadian; Double Jig. USA; New England, Maine, New York, Pa. Canada, Prince Edward Island. A Major (Bronner): D Major (Bayard, Flaherty, Levey, O'Flannagan, Silberberg, Stanford/Petrie): G Major (Allan, Bayard, Brody, Cole, Kennedy, Kerr, Perlman, Phillips, Sweet, Tolman): F Major (Hardings). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Bayard, Bronner, Silberberg, Stanford/Petrie): AAB (Kerr): AABB (most versions): AABB' (Flaherty, O'Neill). The "Larry O'Gaff" title for the tune comes from a nonsensical stage-Irish song whose words are only rarely reported (they can be found in a folk version in Creighton's Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia), and it appears the melody normally was used as an instrumental piece. The tune/song is firmly ensconced in the late minstrel/early vaudeville stage. It is usually associated with Northeastern players in the United States. The older title was probably "Hob or Nob" posits Bayard (1981), which was the title of an old British dance. However, as far back as 1840 it was entered into the music manuscript book of Cumbrian musician John Rook as "Larry O'Gaff is the boy" a title that seems associated with Samuel Lover's (1797–1868) comic piece called "Larry O'Gaff", which begins:
Larry O'Gaff was a brave boy for marching,
His instep was larege--but his income was small;
So he set up, one day, as a soldier of fortune--
The meaning of which is--no fortune at all.
In battles, bombardments and sieges he grew up,
Till he didn't much care if towns flourish'd or blew up,
And his maxims in life--for he pick'd one or two up--
Were short, sweet and simple for Larry O'Gaff.
Bronner (1987) suggests a connection with "Campbells are Coming (1) (The)" and "Miss McLeod's Reel (1)," which his source (central N.Y. fiddler Les Weir) also called "Hob or Knob". He thinks that the popularity of "Larry O'Gaff" may come from its ability to replace the aforementioned tunes at country dances. In fact, by 1858 it was reported not as a jig but as a country dance in Howe's Ball-Room Hand Book. David Taylor (1992) remarks at the similarity of the piece with the Irish jig "Daniel O'Connell" and says that the two tunes, though commonly played in different keys, are often confused. He further notes "Bundle and Go (2)," which is listed as an alternate title for "Larry O'Gaff" by Roche, is an alternate title (though an unusual one) for his "Daniel O'Connell."
"O'Gaff" was cited as having commonly been played for country dances in Orange County, New York, in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly). Boston publisher Elias Howe printed contra dance instructions with the tune in his Musician's Omnibus, No. 1 (1862). The title appears in the repertoire list of Maine native Mellie Dunham, an elderly fiddler who was Henry Ford's champion dance musician in the mid-1920's. Words to the 'A' part of the tune begin:
It was early on Monday, I mean late on a Sunday,
We went to the wedding of Darvey McGraw.
See also Joseph Allard's "Gigue de la Débauche," for a French-Canadian version, and the P.E.I. "Island Boy" is a related tune. The tune is also the vehicle for the songs "Humors of Whiskey" and "Making Babies by Steam."