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Las Vegas’ ‘Presidential Pianist’ reunites with Jimmy, Rosalynn Carter

David Osborne sees it all from his piano bench at Bellagio’s Petrossian Bar & Lounge. Tourists from across the globe gaze at the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the resort lobby, then invariably move toward the hypnotic sounds emanating from Osborne’s Steinway grand piano.

“If you sit here long enough, you’ll see the whole world literally walk by the piano here at the Bellagio,” Osborne says during a recent chat near Bellagio Patisserie. “It’s just a fabulous place.”

Osborne plays from 8 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Sundays and Mondays. But sometimes Osborne takes his show on the road, especially on his many visits to sitting and former presidents. He’s properly known as “Pianist to the Presidents” and is returning to the couple with whom he has forged a 30-year friendship, Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter, on Saturday at First Baptist Church in Americus, Ga. The city is near the Carters’ original hometown of Plains.

The event is the Carters’ dual birthday celebrations. Jimmy turns 94 on Oct. 1; Rosalynn turned 92 Aug. 18. Osborne himself celebrates his own birthday Sunday, a day after the party.

Osborne has a deep history of presidential performances. He’s played 65 events over the years for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He performed for the elder Bush and Reagan at Marriott’s Orlando World Center and for Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama at holiday events at the White House. He has not played the Trump White House, but this month did receive an email saying he might be invited this October.

Osborne has been particularly close to Jimmy Carter after meeting the former president at a book signing at a mall in Orlando, Fla., in 1988 (the number 88 figures prominently in Osborne’s life, as it is the number of keys on a piano and also in Osborne’s email address).

“I had an old 33-rpm album I’d recorded, so I signed it and put my phone number on it, stood in line for three hours to meet this man,” Osborn said. “Three weeks later, the pastor from the Baptist church called me and he says, ‘Jimmy really liked the record, would you like to come play for him?’ That’s how it started.”

Osborne plans to play a couple of Jimmy Carter’s favorites, “Imagine” and “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which he also plays at Bellagio.

Osborne, who began playing by ear at age 4, holds music degrees from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., Indiana University and Pittsburg State University in Kansas. He moved to Las Vegas to seek a residency at Palace Court at Caesars Palace where such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Burt Bacharach dined and occasionally even got up to sing.

When Osborne asked to audition, a hotel official told him, “You know, all I have to do is shake a tree and a great pianist falls out of it. Why should I consider you?”

Osborne, who had just finished a stint with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, won over hotel execs and spent 12 years at Caesars. He’s been at Bellagio for the past 13.

“I came out for a six-week trial,” Osborne says, smiling, “and I’ve been playing every day since.”

Harts for McSpadden

Something we learned in New York: Jaclyn McSpadden has been signed by Powerline Entertainment. This is the agency operated by entertainment powerhouses Dave Hart and his wife, Ronni Hart and is tour producer for Ringo Starr And His All Starr Band. The company is also the management and consulting service for such artists as Edgar Winter, Eric Burdon, Nathan East, Linda Eder, Tom Wopat and Alisan Porter (season 10 champion of “The Voice”).

The Harts were captured by McSpadden’s performance in “Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox Hideaway” at 1 Oak Nightclub at the Mirage. The couple also manages PMJ’s LaVance Colley, and has also worked with Clint Holmes in Las Vegas.

McSpadden is joining Daniel Emmet’s upcoming run at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace on Sunday night, and count on her being called up by Brian Newman at NoMad Restaurant when he returns in October. As we say, him no dummy.

‘The Train’ pulls in

Rockabilly star Wayne “The Train” Hancock and his band joined the cast of “Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel in Concert” Monday at Harrah’s for a spin through “Milk Cow Blues.” The show has just run its 100th performance.

Fury at Piero’s

Heavyweight champ Tyson Fury and legendary promotor Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing dined at Piero’s Italian Restaurant last Thursday.

Arum is a longtime friend of Piero’s owner Freddie Glusman. Fury, the 6-feet-9 inch powerhouse pugilist known as The Gypsy King, turned heads as he towered over his tablemates.

What we anticipate …

An extension for the farcical and unauthorized “Potted Potter” at Bally’s Windows Showroom, likely through next spring.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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