A concert by Bobby van Deusen could include “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Dizzy Fingers,” “The Entertainer,” “I Want a Girl,” “Maple Leaf Rag,” “Side By Side” or medleys from “The Sound of Music” or "The Phantom of the Opera."
“They’re familiar tunes. I try to play them in a way that not only catches people’s ears but gives them a chance to maybe have their own visualization of what’s going on as part of the music,” van Deusen said.
“I play really pretty piano music and mix that up with sing-alongs and family-friendly tunes. I do a couple of Ray Stevens’ things and keep people laughing and keep toes tapping and people smiling. I just play the piano the best that I can.”
Van Deusen, who started playing professionally in 1976, did a brief tour with Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1970s on the state fair circuit. He enjoyed performing in New Orleans in the 1980s with the Dukes of Dixieland and clarinetist Pete Fountain.
Interest in playing the piano came at young age. He was fascinated at age 8 upon hearing George Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue.”
“I grew up in Pennsylvania. We lived in a little house in northwest Philadelphia. My father was in law school for the first six years of my life. We didn’t have anything, but my mother inherited some money from an aunt and bought a Cunningham full-sized upright player piano,” van Deusen said.
Van Deusen said he still enjoys discovering new things on the piano.
“It’s an orchestra. I still practice three or four or five hours a day. I’m learning some tunes and I’m making progress,” said van Deusen, who also tours with the Prime Time Trio.
“How I communicate best is when I sit down behind a piano and have an audience listening to me, and I’m able to reach them with my music.”