Common Chords By Randall Hill
Bob and Casey O’Connor
Murrells Inlet resident Bob O’Connor doesn’t see music as the sole reason for the close relationship he has with his son Casey; he sees it as just the latest in a long list of activities they’ve done together to bond their relationship over the years. “We’ve always been very close,” said O’Connor about his son who was born with Down syndrome in 1987. “Music has just been in the last two or three years. It’s a new thing for us to do together.”
For Christmas a few years back, O’Connor bought a Horner “Blues Harp” harmonica for his son and since that day Casey has taken to the idea of music and being in a band. “He picked it up fairly quickly and we’ve started letting him play music in our band.”
Since the mid 1980s, Bob O’Connor has been in the Myrtle Beach area band called “The Mullets.” This year, the band celebrates its 25th anniversary of playing music together in the bars and club along the Grand Strand.
“Now that Casey is 21 and all and can get into the clubs that I play with The Mullets, he’s on stage and playing with us as a part of the band.”
After speaking with Bob for a few moments, he likes to point out how much a “natural” Casey is to music and how little time the two take to its study. As he speaks of his son’s talent, one must realize how far the young man has come in his life.
“When he was born we knew we had a lot to prepare for,” O’Connor said as he sat recently in a chair in the family’s music room. A well-worn Guild guitar, cherished by the musician, leans against another chair to his left. Casey’s growing harp collection is nearby in the chair’s seat. “When he was 6-hours-old he had major surgery and six weeks later we were able to bring him home from the hospital.”
The early news and doctors’ reports about his son’s condition were not good. “Things that the doctors told us many years ago that he would never do have now turned out to be a bunch of nonsense,” said O’Connor. “Anybody that sees him now knows he’s a pretty together guy,” he said proudly. “He works hard at his job, is a Special Olympic champion golfer, plays blues harp in a band, so I’d say he’s pretty well-rounded.
“I feel really excited about what’s in my heart and the feel of this music,” said Casey about his newfound love of music. “I think that music is the way to go with the style and how I learned how to play.”
This fall, Casey will take his talents to the next level. Coastal Carolina University has accepted him as a freshman in its new Life Program. The program allows full inclusion within the campus community and is a four-year post-secondary education program for students with disabilities.
After playing the Bob Dylan song “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’’ and the Grateful Dead classic “Friend Of The Devil” during this jam session in the music room, Casey talked about how he feels when he plays music.
“It makes me want to play more music with my dad,” he said after a short pause and an affirming fist tap with his father. “He’s one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitar players that I’ve known.”
Listen to audio clips of Bob & Casey O'Connor performing songs together.
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere