The patrons at Seagar's in Destin, Florida have been listening to him for years. Now, Seagar's at Hilton Old Town Alexandria has borrowed Bobby Van Duesen to kick off the opening of their new piano bar.
During the month of February, he will be at Seagar's six nights a week doing what he does best — playing the piano.
"I'm a pretty passionate guy. This is what I love to do and I love to start something new," said Van Duesen. "Right now, I'm just trying to get the word spread." It seems to be working — just two weeks after he started playing, people are starting to come in and some are coming back.
"We're starting to see regulars," said Van Duesen. "People are very cautious around here, there's so much to do in this area that people want to make sure that it's worth their while.
If anybody can make it worth the while, Van Duesen can. With his long ponytail and signature red carnation in his hat, he makes playing the piano looking like walking. For him that's how it is— it's second-nature. When asked if he's ever stumped by a song request, he said that it doesn't happen often, but when it does all he has to do is go to his computer and listen to the song and then he can play it.
Van Duesen started playing professionally when he was 19 years old, playing clubs in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. He moved south in the 80's and was with the Dixieland band at Rosie O'Grady's in New Orleans for four years. He spent another four years playing for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. He was still doing that when he married his wife, Colleen, but after their son, Jack, was born, he decided to get something where he wouldn't have to leave home so often. Seagar's proved to be the perfect choice. Van Duesen likes to collect antique pocket watches, is a licensed pilot, avid racquetball player and "dismal golfer."
Seagar's has a wine room with over 250 selections ranging in price from $26 to $400. There are 220 martinis to select from and a walk-in humidor with premium cigars allows cigar smokers to select quality cigars and enjoy them in the bar area or lobby.
The Hilton Old Town Alexandria is located at 1767 King Street, directly across the street from the King Street metro station and accessible by the yellow and blue line metro trains. Complimentary parking is available. Bobby Van Duesen appears Wednesday and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 7 p.m. to midnight. For more information call 703-837-0440.