Batavia High School graduate Pat Bergeson to star with Annie Sellick

For Batavia High School graduate Pat Bergeson and his wife, jazz-vocalist Annie Sellick, making music is a family affair.

Bergeson and Sellick, who have played with everyone from Dolly Parton to Bela Fleck, will perform as a duo during their Aug. 25 show at The Venue in downtown Aurora.

The concert also will feature acclaimed guitarist Richard Smith, who was named the National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion in 2001.

Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Bergeson and Sellick about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.

Eric Schelkopf: Pat, I know that you are a 1979 Batavia High School graduate and you still have family in the area. Is it special to you when you come back to the area and perform?

Pat Bergeson: Oh, for sure. I’m glad to come back up there and perform. We did a benefit show together at the Batavia VFW that had a good turnout.

Annie Sellick: It is special. It’s really special. I’m from Nashville originally, and Batavia to me is a cool part of the world. It’s all made up of a bunch of families like the Bergesons.

Schelkopf: Of course, the both of you have performed with a lot of different people. How have people been reacting to the two of you performing together on stage?

Sellick: I think people are charmed by the coupleship. It’s one thing to hear people singing love songs and it’s another one to hear them singing love songs with their sweetie playing along.

Schelkopf: What’s it like performing together as a duo?

Bergeson: I like the improvisational element of it. We really listen to each other and play off of each other. We like that part of it. We also like where things go musically.

We just like the musical camaraderie, but we also really like the fact that it’s only two people and we don’t have to lug around a whole band. But I think, musically, we do have a rapport.

Sellick: We really know each other after 18 years of working together. We were working with each other before we found a spark with each other.

Musically, we know each other’s strengths. And we draw on those for the show. I think we have a good sense of rhythm together. We feel each other’s groove.

I’m a bit of a performer and when I’ve seen Pat play guitar for other people, sometimes he has the same look on his face the whole time.

But with me, he has to animate a little bit more because it’s just the two of us and he really rises to the occasion. He’s even funny.

Schelkopf: Pat, I know that the reason you’re in Nashville now is because Chet Atkins asked you to join his band. It’s a good thing that you moved to Nashville, right?

Bergeson: Oh yeah, definitely. I was already working with Chet, and finally decided to move after working with him for a year.

Schelkopf: As far as what he liked about you, did he ever tell you what he liked about your playing?

Bergeson: He liked my songwriting and he liked my playing. It was my rock ‘n’ roll playing at the time that he first heard. It wasn’t really my jazz playing.

And then when he heard me play jazz and he heard me play harmonica and everything, then he was like, oh, wow.

He invited me to play on a record called “Sneakin’ Around” with him and Jerry Reed. Of course, that was an unbelievable opportunity. It was the biggest break that ever happened to me at the time.

After the record, we started doing TV appearances and various gigs.

Schelkopf: There were a lot of big-time musicians on ‘’Sneakin’ Around.” Besides Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed, people like Mark Knopfler, Suzy Bogguss and Amy Grant also are on the album. You must have been in heaven.

Bergeson: It was incredible. I couldn’t believe it was all happening to me. I was in my early 30s and I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was incredible.

Schelkopf: What did you learn from working with Chet Atkins and some of these other people?

Bergeson: Well, I learned that I had a lot to learn. One of the big things I learned from Chet was that when you are playing music, you are not just playing for yourself. You are playing for the people who are listening to you.

Sellick: That’s one of the things that I love about Pat’s jazz sensibility. He can hang instrumentally with anybody and take it as far out as a lot of people do, harmonically and experimentally and improvisationally.

Pat does always kind of hone back to what’s going to communicate. What’s going to translate. What’s fun to listen to.

Schelkopf: So when you do a studio album together, Pat, perhaps your son, Sam, can produce it? I understand that Sam is a producer and a songwriter.

Bergeson: If he did, it would be pop music. That’s what he does.

Schelkopf: Is it any surprise, Pat, that he would also want to go into the music business?

Bergeson: No, it’s no surprise. He’s been into it since he was a kid.

Schelkopf: Did he choose to go into the music business? No one forced him?

Bergeson: He chose it. No one forced him into anything. I would have supported whatever he wanted to do. But I’m glad that he chose music.

If you go

WHAT: Batavia native Pat Bergeson with his wife, jazz-vocalist Annie Sellick, and special guest Richard Smith

WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 25

WHERE: The Venue, 21 S. Broadway Ave. (Route 25), downtown Aurora, between Galena Boulevard and Downer Place

COST: $25 for reserved table seating, $20 for cocktail seating, $15 general admission in advance, $5 more at the door