Polka, A, Traditional Irish
Also know as Jer the Rigger
Ger the Rigger is a traditional Irish polka that is energetic and fun to play. While the tune is straightforward, its name may be perplexing. “Ger” or “Jer” is pronounced with a soft G, and is a nickname for Gerald or Jerry. A rigger is a person whose job is to employ cables, hoists, and other equipment to move heavy objects.
I once was a rigger, and I worked like hellJack Forbes, “Rolling Down the River,” a container ship chantey.
Rolling up, rolling down
But now I’m sailing with the OCL
And go rolling down the river
- Audio – Fiddlehead: Ger the Rigger – from the album Over the Straits (Olympia, Washington, USA)
- Video – Kevin Burke: Biddy Martin’s/Ger The Rigger/Bill Sullivan’s Polka – solo fiddle from the album If The Cap Fits. (Ger the Rigger starts at time 0:52 in this recording.)
- Video – Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill: Port na bPucai/Kilnamona Barndance/Ship In Full Sail/jer The Rigger/The Old Blackthorn/Exile of Erin/Humours Of Tulla/Fitzgerald’s Hornpipe/Rakish Paddy/Finbarr Dwyer’s Reel No. 1/P Joe’s Pecurious Pa – from the album Live in Seattle. (Jer the Rigger starts at time 8:57 in this recording.)
Sheet Music (Dots)
As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference.
Play from the Dots
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- Rakes & Rigger Polka Set: The Girl I Left Behind Me (G) / The Rakes of Mallow (G) / Ger the Rigger (A)
- Biddy Martin’s / Ger The Rigger / Bill Sullivan’s Polka
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Video – Fergal Scahill: Fergal Scahill’s fiddle tune a day 2017 – Day 175 – Ger the Rigger – dual fiddles; played at barn dance tempo.
- Lesson – Tom Morley: Learn an Irish Trad Fiddle Tune – Jer the Rigger
- Lesson – Kevin Burke (Fiddlevideo): Ger the Rigger (Polka) – Trad Irish Fiddle Lesson by Kevin Burke – partial lesson (full lesson requires subscription to Fiddlevideo)
- Additional Resources
- Webpage – The Session: Ger the Rigger (Polka) – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and more
- Video – Jack Forbes and the Hoy Shanty Crew: Rolling Down the River – a “container ship chantey” of Tilbury, England. Composed by Jack Forbes.