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Grant Recipient - Connor Caplis

Alpena, MI - August 2022

This past August, The Sunset Project had the great pleasure to award Connor Caplis of Alpena, MI with The Sawyer J. Boyd Creatives Grant - a $1000 funding opportunity to help local creatives expand their passions and endeavors.

We sat down with Connor at the event to discuss his unique story, why he applied, and what the future of creativity in Northeast Michigan looks like to him.


How is this grant going to help you achieve your creative goals?

So basically, with my current guitar set up everything is very good except my amp. Especially lately it's been malfunctioning and having electrical issues so I really need to replace it with something better and this is a great opportunity to do so. It'll improve or live performances too, since my current amp can be a little bit weak for live performances and stuff as well.

Really this grant will be helpful because with a thousand dollars to get a new amp, then I can potentially put some other money towards other ways to improve our live performances. I’ve been wanting to add synthesizer sounds to our live shows, stuff like that.

So then what does the future look like for you? The next couple of years specifically.

I really don't know, we'll see how far we can go. But I do know now that I’ve got a taste of playing, I'm not going to stop. It’s like a bug, once you have the itch it’s hard to shake that itch.

I’m a senior right now, and I’d really like to go to the University of Michigan and work on an engineering degree. Alongside that, I really want to do as much music-related stuff as I can. Playing in Ann Arbor, seeing if I can break into their music scene, I think that would be really awesome.

Starting in your hometown, doing some stuff there, and then taking those skills to Ann Arbor what a great opportunity that could be.

Yeah, especially after this summer I feel a lot more prepared as a musician than I did

before, and this grant is only going to help with that preparedness.

When did you guys (The Scholastic News) start playing together as a band?

We started at the very end of the school year this year. Mrs. Decker from the Thunder Bay Arts Counsel emailed our band teacher and he put her in touch with Nick and me from there we put together a band to play at this festival in Alpena.

We were the first act, we got a thirty-minute set with like two people there but that opened up the door for us to put together a set, play live, and then soon after we picked up our first gig at The Fresh Palate.

What are your thoughts on the current, creative environment in Northeast Michigan? Like what are we doing well or what could we be doing better to improve the output?

I think it'd be really cool if we had more musicians, or at least encouraged more people to play live in local areas. I love playing with new people, we all do, and it's kind of unfortunate that it took me this long to put together a band cause I've been trying to do this for years.

Really what helped was getting Nick on board, the two of us kind of worked some stuff out on our own, and then we were more equipped to go recruit people but it would be cool if there were more musicians and more local people around who loved doing this kind of stuff. And who knows, I'm sure there are a number of really good players around that just haven't gotten out there yet. I know that was me for a really long time, but if we could do more encouraging in that space I think it could be huge for the small town music scene and the creative scene as a whole.

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