Sudbury's Kevin Closs finds musical inspiration in remote cruises
A few years ago, Sudbury's Kevin Closs got a call from a cruise ship company. They were looking for an entertainer who could navigate a boat and shoot a gun.
Closs, who is a singer-songwriter, said he could, and since then, has been spending several months a year on arctic and antarctic cruise ships.
By day, he leads tourists on adventures on a small boat called a Zodiac, and by night, he performs for the crowd.
"There's nothing better than everyday getting out in a Zodiac either cruising through icebergs or landing and hiking in historical sites or sites that have interesting geology history," he said.
Those daytime adventures result in plenty of inspirations for new songs, Closs says.
He says in adventure tourism, there is no set itinerary for where passengers will visit each day. One day, they were hoping to get to a particular area, but were told there were going somewhere else, Jenny Lind Island.
"As soon as we heard from the expedition leader, there were groans," he said.
"Well, I thought how bad could Jenny Lind be? Well, it turns out that Jenny Lind is basically just this flat, sandy piece of land that pokes up out of the sea. There's no history, there's no wildlife, there's no plants, there's no rocks. It's just a giant, mucky, sandy place with a few birds."
Closs ended up writing a song about Jenny Lind because he "didn't think she was all that bad."
He adds the wildlife in the arctic and antarctic also inspires him. The cruises take place in remote areas with plenty of wildlife, including polar bears.
"These companies do everything they can to avoid contact with bears," he said.
That includes training staff to use a gun, something Closs says he's never had to use on a trip.
Closs says being from northern Ontario, he's never been a fan of black bears as they make him nervous due to their unpredictable behaviour. He says it's quite an experience to see a polar bear.
"When you see one in their natural environment, hunting or feeding on a seal, it's riveting," he said.
"They're amazing animals to encounter."
Along with bears, Closs says he's been able to see whales and birds and he even wrote a song from a whale's perspective.
Next month, Closs will head to Norway for his next arctic expedition.
He says he hopes to release a recording of some of the music inspired by his travels, either later this year or early next.