Striking a chord: District review appraiser and musician on being part of something bigger than himself

Published May 9, 2024
A man in a green shirt and blue pants stands in front of a brown wall with silver writing on it.

David Capell, review appraiser, Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A man in a black shirt holds a black bass guitar.

David Capell, Kansas City District review appraiser and bassist for All But Forgotten, plays bass at Vivo Live Events in Overland Park, Kansas, in April 2023.

A man in a black shirt and khaki shorts holds a bass guitar with a yellow heart in the background.

David Capell, Kansas City District review appraiser and bassist for The Daisy Cull, plays bass at Llywelyn’s Pub in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, on May 4, 2024.

The success of an organization often depends on having an effective support staff. An organization with a mission set as large and varied as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires many support offices and positions. Among these many critical support positions at the Kansas City District is David Capell, district review appraiser.

A team of one, Capell is the Kansas City District’s sole review appraiser responsible for appraising and reviewing appraisals of all district property. If it sounds like an important job, that’s because it is. With an area of responsibility spanning five states, the Kansas City District has a robust civil works and military mission, which require a lot of real estate. Before a project can be completed, there is almost always some sort of real estate action and many of these actions require an appraisal or review of one.

“Almost all of the projects that [USACE] is a part of involve real estate,” said Capell. “Anything that requires a valuation comes across my desk.”

Sometimes Capell is the individual responsible for determining the market value of a piece of property. Sometimes he is responsible for reviewing an appraisal completed by another person, whether from another USACE district or an outside, third-party. Either way, getting an appraisal reviewed is a federal requirement.

“Anytime something is appraised in the federal government, it has to be reviewed by another appraiser,” said Capell.

Appraising a piece of property requires an in-person inspection. While this can be an arduous process, especially for large facilities with multiple tenants, getting out and inspecting properties is what drew Capell to the profession in the first place.

“No two days are the same and every property is different,” said Capell. “It’s cool to be part of interesting projects and it’s neat to be part of something bigger.”

He became an appraiser in 2005 after graduating from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and worked for various local and state governments before coming to work for USACE in 2017. Now, as a Certified General Real Estate Appraiser, Capell is a crucial member of the Kansas City District’s Real Estate Division and a vital component to the success of the Kansas City District’s missions.

“We all pay taxes and [as federal employees] we are stewards of that money. So, anytime [USACE] or the federal government spends that money, there need to be some checks and balances,” said Capell. “I am a piece — an important piece, I think — of that responsibility.”

Certified to rock

While Capell enjoys his job as a review appraiser, his passion lies elsewhere. A bassist in not one, but two bands, Capell loves music. If he’s not at work or spending time with family, he is likely at band practice.

“It’s a good life. I love music,” said Capell. “I can talk about music all day long.”

To those who aren’t blessed with musical talents, playing an instrument is an impressive skill. But being a self-taught musician is perhaps even more impressive. Capell was in college when he decided to teach himself how to play the bass guitar.

“My dad had a bass guitar … and it just sat in a box,” said Capell. “I was in college and I thought it would be cool to take it to my dorm. I downloaded Blink 182 songs on my computer and I learned to play those songs.”

As if being a self-taught bassist wasn’t enough, Capell also writes music, some lyrics and sings backup in his bands. Having played to crowds as large as 50,000 and at major festivals like Rocklahoma, Capell has an impressive musical resume. But it’s the music, not the crowds that excite him.

“I’m not sitting here claiming to be some great musician,” said Capell. “I can play it; I can hear it and it’s fun — that’s what I really care about.” 

Much like in his day job as a review appraiser, Capell enjoys the feeling of being part of something larger that being in a band offers. He grew up playing sports but when he reached adulthood, he craved the feeling of belonging to a team.

“I missed being part of something like that and music kind of took the place [of sports],” said Capell.

It doesn’t take much prodding to get Capell to talk about his passion for music. It’s not just a hobby for him, but a way to escape and just be in the moment.

“Whether it’s practice or a show, when [I’m playing music], everything in the world goes away,” said Capell. “When we’re jamming, whatever my problems in life are, they’re gone for that time. It makes everything go away for a minute.”

Capell’s current bands, The Daisy Cull and All But Forgotten, as well as his former band, Ten Thousand One, can be streamed on all music streaming services and can be found on social media.