Raleigh native Boulevards to bring funk-punk music to First Night

January 1, 2019

The mainstage performance at WRAL First Night Raleigh will be funky, punky and dancey.

Jamil Rashad, known as Boulevards, is a Raleigh native who grew up watching the acorn drop every New Year’s Eve on TV.

“I’ve always wanted to go,” Rashad, 34, said. Family travels and other schedule conflicts kept him from going to see it in person.

He resides in Los Angeles but is returning to Raleigh to ring in the new year, finish a record and tour.

Playing First Night, he said, was “always kind of a dream or bucket-list” item.

Boulevard’s music is a mix of funk and punk, with syncopation, call-and-response and a feel-good vibe, he said.

“It makes you feel good,” Rashad said. “Expect a lot of dancing, swag, energy.”

“People want to move around,” he continued, adding that there will be “lots of sweat” Monday night.

“People might lose their voice that night,” he warned.

His performance starts at 10:30 p.m. and goes until midnight.

One of his highlights of 2018 was performing at the Montreal Jazz Festival during the summer.

He called the festival a blessing for the “small-town kid from Raleigh.”

“Going on stage, it didn’t feel out of place for me,” Rashad said. “This is what I was born to do. This is my purpose.”

His 2019 plans include focusing on his sobriety, performing at festivals and “spreading the funk, that Boulevard music.”

Rashad grew up in Raleigh and attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

When he’s in Raleigh, he likes to go to Father and Son, Capital Club 16 and Dix Park.

Raleigh, Rashad said, is a “sweet spot” that people often overlook because it’s close to Charlotte and Atlanta.

“The Raleigh music scene is awesome,” he said. “You have so many talented artists who are doing really cool, positive things.”

Performing in a “hidden gem,” Rashad said, Raleigh artists can perform DIY shows and put out DIY records without boundaries or labels.

“The thing about Raleigh is we do our own thing,” he said. “We don’t try to be anyone else.”

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