PREVIEW: Skylar Gudasz and Blue Cactus at Black Iris, Friday, Sept. 27

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Ashland native and NC-based singer/songwriter, Skylar Gudasz’s upcoming performance in the wood-paneled intimacy of the Tiny Bar at the Black Iris may one day be the stuff of legends.

Or not. Commercial success is pretty random, but she has all the ingredients to deserve it. Her hooks are accessible. The cleverness of her lyrics is just the surface layer of a committed poetic intelligence. She’s been called the South’s Joni Mitchell and “the best singer you never heard.”

She’s toured with the likes of Hiss Golden Messenger, the Mountain Goats, and Big Star Third. And the first single from her upcoming 2020 album has the sugar-razor sensibility of the best from her lauded 2016 debut.

She lightly salts her lyrics with erudite references that betray her degrees in theater and English at UNC-Chapel Hill: “lotus-eaters”, “Byzantium,” and “Oleander,” the title of her first release.

“Art should make you feel something,” Gudasz says. “Words are tools, they have their meaning, but they are also a sound in a soundscape.”

She sings with power and emotional clarity. In online clips she is in front of a big band. At the Black Iris, it will be a stripped-down duo.

“I’ve learned that on tour, so many things are out of control, it is best to let what happens happen. I tread it a little sacredly,” she says. “What makes things exceptional is when both you and the audience forget who you are and just exist somewhere in the middle, in the music.”

Skylar Gudasz opens for cosmic country duo Blue Cactus at Black Iris on Friday, Sept. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 advance/$10 at the door.

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