Sandburg teacher happily singin' soul and blues

While out running one day, Marc Antal had an idea "that wouldn't leave me alone." An avid music lover - particulary of R&B and soul thanks to his Southside Chicago upbringing - this fifth-grade school teacher has devoted the better part of two decades putting together bands and struggling to pump out the sound that's been pounding in his heart.

He's hoping Heat Treatment is it.

This eight-member band is comprised mostly of 50ish-year-old guys (save for 23-year-old female vocalist/percussionist and former barista Michael-Ellyn Schtetzle) who all have regular day jobs. Antal has been teaching for 18 years and currently is employed at Carl Sandburg Elementary.

Antal loves his day job, although he sarcastically says he needs to teach "because I have to earn a living." But after pausing a moment, he admits, "I try to imagine doing other jobs and I can't think of any. I think teaching is really important work."

Steve Beaudry, harmonica (called a "harp" in blues inner circles) player extraordinaire, is another teacher, having been involved in early childhood special education for 30 years. Currently, he is at Rush Elementary. And keyboardist Royce Ferguson - who is a self-labeled background player - is a lawyer with a practice in Everett.

With Antal the creative director and handling lead vocals and guitar, this Eastside band has morphedfrom a fairly traditional blues combo playing "Devil with the Blue Dress" and "What I Say," to a Motown/Chicago/Memphis style soul band complete with sax and trumpet.

Antal laughs when he remembers how audience members would often call for "Blues Brothers" songs, even though the Dan Aykroyd-John Belushi duo was less about their musical talent and more about Ray-Bans.

You gotta know your blues, because there are distinct regional (Chicago vs. Delta) and even neighborhood differences. For instance, Chicago blues is divided into Westside (bigger sound, lots of horns) and Southside (typified by an amplified harmonica).

Heat Treatment typically plays three sets of soul, blues and soul. The difference? Soul has an established horn line that repeats and does not have a lead singer. Blues songs tend to have memorable solos.

On their newly-released promotional CD which was recorded at a studio in Lynnwood, there are even a couple of original songs that Antal penned himself, including "I'm Getting Used to These Blues."

Up to now, the band has played in various Seattle and Eastside clubs, including Third Place Books and the Red Hook Brewery.

For Antal, the measure of success is if they were playing regularly between Vancouver and Portland two or three weekends out of the month. For Beaudry, it's getting people to hang around as evening turns into night. "Any band can hold you 'til 10," he says. "But keeping them from 10 to 1 is the trick."

To contact Heat Treatment or get more information, call Headline Management at 820-6188. They band is also available for weddings and parties.Their Web site is<[[In-content Ad]]