CR, Dover seniors help bring sounds to First Friday

Grady O’Connor, a senior at Dover High, performs at a recent recital. Submitted photos

DOVER — Wesley Melvin and Grady O’Connor, a couple of high school senior musicians, have been “bringing saxy back” when it comes to shopping in downtown Dover.

Mr. Melvin and Mr. O’Connor have been providing the soulful sounds of their saxophones to Dover’s First Friday events over the last few months and often perform right alongside each another outside of downtown storefronts.

The young duo have been known to draw a crowd with their outdoor performances. The next First Friday celebration in downtown Dover is scheduled for this Friday evening, combining performance artists and retail shopping together.

Wesley Melvin, a senior at Caesar Rodney High whose dedication and talent has provided countless opportunities for him to hone his craft, performs on his saxophone.

“I only started playing the saxophone at age 12 because my mother told me I had to play an instrument, and I only chose the saxophone because we had one laying around our house,” said Mr. Melvin, a senior from Caesar Rodney who has been playing at House of Coffi and various other downtown Dover venues during the First Friday celebrations. “I prefer to play with a group, as it is more fun to interact and build the music/ideas off of other musicians.”

Mr. O’Connor, a Dover High senior, is also a very talented saxophone player, but his first choice of musical instruments was not the sax.

“I began playing in fifth grade, when I tried out to play the drums and didn’t make it,” he said, adding that he plays all styles of music, but jazz is his favorite, either performing solos or in an ensemble.

“If the band is swingin,’ then performing in an ensemble is way better than playing by yourself,” Mr. O’Connor said.

His love of music has led him to intern as an assistant choir director at Wesley United Methodist Church. In addition to the saxophone, he also plays the piano and is planning to continue his music career after he graduates, either at the University of Northern Texas or Temple.

When downtown Dover’s First Friday celebration unfolds on Friday, March 6, Mr. O’Connor will be playing at SoZo, a unique blend of old, new and upcycled items for the home, in their new location at 123 W. Loockerman St.

Mr. Melvin also hopes to continue his music career, which includes not only saxophone but flute and clarinet, in college. He will not be playing at the next First Friday because he will be performing with Caesar Rodney High’s musical that evening but expects to return in April or May.

Diane Laird, executive director of the Downtown Dover Partnership, said the DDP is always seeking artists and musicians for their First Friday activities, which are free and open to the public. Parking is free on the street and in permit lots after 5 p.m. on Friday and all weekend. For more information call 302-678-2940 or Email Diane@DowntownDoverPartnership.com.