- This event has passed.
Boulevards w/ Bobby Gentilo
June 21 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
21+_$15 ADV / $18 DOS_8pm
“I was born in the North Carolina mud,” says Jamil Rashad, better known as Boulevards, one of the most idiosyncratic artists making music in the Tarheel State. “That’s where I have my roots. I’ve lived in Los Angeles and New York, but I keep coming back here. This is home. This is where I’ve learned the most.” His fourth album, Electric Cowboy: Born in Carolina Mud, is caked in the soil where he grew up, mired in the muck of this place—not stuck but freed. “A lot of artists who are coming from smaller cities like Raleigh get overlooked, so a lot of us are underdogs. North Carolina doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves, but there are all these amazing people doing it a very particular way that is very inspiring. It’s always been at the center of so many different scenes—soul, country, jazz, hip-hop, indie rock. I wanted some of that dirt on this record. I’m leaving my footprint in that mud.”
All of those styles and genres inform Electric Cowboy, but the dominant sound—the dominant mindset—is funk: gritty, warm, weird, charismatic. The music unfolds kaleidoscopically, giving Rashad the space to face up to his own demons while showcasing the energy and charisma that have made him a mainstay in the North Carolina music scene. It’s a new sound for him, but not an unexpected one; he’s been building toward this album for several years, showing new facets of himself with each new record. While drawing from different eras of pop history, he never sounds retro and never loses himself among the references.
“On Electric Cowboy I wanted to make some modern funk that the kids would enjoy, but still have some soul elements and some punk elements,” he says, listing James Brown, Shuggie Otis, and Baby Huey as well as Bad Brains, Gang of Four, Television, and The Cramps among his heroes. “That’s what I’ve always aimed to do since the beginning, since writing my first song, but I had to make all those other records and go through all that stuff to get to this point. A lot of artists come out hitting with that first record, but for me, I had to take those risks and take those chances to get to where I am now.”
Where he is now is funk: a place he can be truly and most authentically himself. Grounded in personal experience and haunted by personal demons, Electric Cowboy is an album that reaches out, that embraces the world, that mixes the confessional and the communal. “I want to stay true to myself and talk about my own struggles, but I want to do it in a way so that people can relate to it. It’s about keeping strong, holding your shit together. I like making music that is very straightforward. I don’t want to overcomplicate things when it comes to the songwriting process. I want the people to hear where I’m coming from.”