Watching Orlando music icon Eugene Snowden's stylish new video for his equally stylish new single "I'll Do It" is like watching film reels from a bygone era: Traffic on Mills Avenue! A bustling Will's pub! Eugene giving a handshake to the doorman! Eugene and company playing to a packed Lil Indies! (And to think it was just filmed back in January.)
Once you get past the initial jolt of cognitive dissonance, you're immersed in what was, until very recently, a vivid re-creation of Eugene Snowden's performing life. A nattily dressed Snowden striding purposely into the bar, hat rakishly cocked over one eye, plugging in and ripping a set of passionate, punkish and primed soul. Add in a well-hydrated audience dancing and hanging on every word and the picture is complete. This clip's mix of sounds and visions – and maybe this is kind of the cabin fever talking – lends the song an extra anthemic edge, an extra push of hope and resilience.
When Orlando Weekly reaches Snowden on the phone – at which point he pauses Norm MacDonald's Dirty Work, it should be noted – Snowden chuckles at our read of the video and informs us, without a tinge of regret, that the single should have been out in April. It was meant to be the promotional herald for a run of North American tour dates.
"I wouldn't have been home at all in April," says Snowden. "If things were normal you wouldn't be talking to me today here at home, you'd be talking to me on the second leg of my tour!"
Despite what would have been a series of debauched and ear-bleeding nights now placed on indefinite pause, Snowden is taking everything in stride. He's keeping an eye on the news and on the science. For a man who's been living his life on stages in Orlando for so many years, he's in no hurry to jump back on one.
"I'm willing to wait. But I'm in a different situation than a lot of people out there. I'm 57 years old. I've been married and divorced. I've had kids; they're 30 years old now, they can take care of themselves. I don't have a house, I don't have massive debts. I can't compare my situation to others, but I can wait until it's extremely safe.
"But I'm a fucking artist and I understand the desire to get my work out there. This is what I've been doing for the past 20 years. So I feel for musicians. But I want to take precautions. I have to be really sure about this before I get back out there. My aunt – my dad's younger sister – died of coronavirus; this has already touched my family."
Even while in a wait-and-see mode, Snowden has been far from idle, jumping headlong into the live streaming game. He was there for Andy Matchett's No Days Off telethon back in March. From there, he inevitably returned to Will's Pub, resuming his Ten Pints of Truth residency on the Will's stage, as Will Walker and staff worked out the bugs of live streaming in real time. Snowden also performed as part of the New Standard's nightly streams, and who knows where the wi-fi waves will find Snowden next.
It's a bit of a master class to watch a consummate showman like Snowden give his all, with all his trademark confidence and anarchy intact, to an empty room. He laughs it off, saying, "You just know at some point there's going to be some eyes on you."
And he amply demonstrates that there's room for some rock & roll mischief, even once removed. Snowden recalls the first Will's stream with a shake of his head: "My pants fell down! I was loaded, I cussed so much! And later they said the mayor might have been watching!"
The one thing Snowden is impatient to do is finally release his long-awaited solo album, Only the Real Thing. Everything's recorded and the cover art, a timeless portrait shot by local Mike Dunn ("A badass, I'm so happy with what he's done," says Snowden) is complete. "The way it was supposed to go was that we would have come back from tour and the album would be out. We had this planned out to a T," says Snowden.
The last piece of the puzzle is mastering the recordings, which is a process that can't be done to Snowden's satisfaction remotely. So he'll wait a little longer, and really, what's a few more months, when tracking for the album started more than two years ago? "It's going to be crazy when it's finally out," he enthuses.
For now, Snowden is acquiring cameras and sound equipment to gain more control and flexibility for streaming performances. "I don't care what anybody says, this is going to be the way we have to perform for a while," he asserts. "I'm getting a lot of calls to do this and to do that; I'm going to be producing a lot of stuff in-home."
Snowden is also doing a lot of thinking about ways the Orlando creative community is going to have to adjust and recalibrate.
"I think now is the time for us to become communal again, and start connecting with and working together. ... If it sounds cliché to say come together, then let me be fucking cliché every day of the week. There's no way our stuff is going to go back to where it was. It's going to be awhile before it does. Start becoming a little more communal. Reach out, reach out to me. ... It's not an easy thing to do, to seek out people for help. But know that we're still here no matter what, even if it's just to encourage each other.
"Let's start helping each other. If you've got some equipment, let some people use some equipment. We can do it together. So let's try to be as connected as we possibly can. Because we're going to get through it."
And then it's back to watching Dirty Work and getting set for the next virtual gig. Stay tuned.
For an extra dose of nostalgia for the not-very-distant past, here's a look behind the scenes of Eugene Snowden's "I'll Do It" video shoot, filmed in 2019 at Lil Indie's in Orlando.
This story appears in the May 20, 2020, print edition of Orlando Weekly. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider supporting this free publication with a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.