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Justin Appel: Life’s core is blues

Justin Appel is the keyboardist for The Heath Alan Band, performing during the Bottoms Up Blues Bash, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.

Q: What drew you to the blues?

I think a lot of times people, especially guys, use it as kind of an emotional outlet. If women are feeling bad, they get together and talk it through, but with guys it’s a little different. I was also alienated a lot as a kid; I was the only blind child in a school of probably 100 kids. When I heard the blues, there was an outlet, you could sing about pretty much anything. Blues music is basically based on emotion; you don’t have to study a lot to make it happen and express yourself.

Q: How did you start playing the keys?

My grandfather came in one time with a Magnus Chord Organ. It was sort of like an electric accordion without the bellows in it. From there I started moving on to other keyed instruments. The notes are all right there in front of you in a pattern; you don’t have to be technically great or an astounding player to sit down, play three basic chords and start making songs.

Q: What else do you have coming up?

Mostly playing live gigs. I’ve just started a new blues band with Jeff Banks, Jon Locker, Scott Dawson and James Biehn. We’re planning to enter the Iowa Blues Challenge. Since things are kind of unpredictable, I can’t be quoted on the name yet. I’m also playing some live gigs with Shannon Curfman.