Closed 1h 25m
Lonesome Blues
Midtown E
73

Lonesome Blues NYC Reviews and Tickets

73%
(62 Reviews)
Positive
76%
Mixed
21%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great singing, Slow, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

About the Show

The world premiere musical 'Lonesome Blues' is the true story of the legendary bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson: born blind, but ultimately able to express his deepest emotions through music.

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Member Reviews (62)

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71
Absorbing, Slow, Entertaining, Meandering, Bluesy

See it if you enjoy early blues music & want to learn about an oft-forgotten progenitor of the form as told & sung by the engaging & skilled Babatunde

Don't see it if you have a low tolerance for rambling storytelling or the tedium of repetitive blues riffs. Read more

78
Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing

See it if you like a solo show with one actor and one musician, both very talented, telling the story of a singer through the use of songs.

Don't see it if you do not like solo shows or like a show with a plot. Very simple set. Read more

Critic Reviews (13)

June 25th, 2018

"The authors have struggled to put together a coherent narrative out of the few pitiful scraps of information available to them, and the result is one of the sketchiest entertainments to grace the York's stage in some time...After a while, the text of 'Lonesome Blues' comes to feel like so much wallpaper between the numbers...Babatunde's singing is a bit mannered; the blues don't seem to come naturally to him...Owens' direction at least maintains a quick pace."
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June 20th, 2018

“Features Babatundé’s awesome performance...but unfortunately muddled storytelling...There’s a lack of background information imparted and so despite the great renditions it becomes stultifying...In the second half...the narration is more connected to the musical portions as it successfully concludes...Owens brings presentational polish to the production with her assured staging that injects as much momentum as possible given the problematic material.”
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June 20th, 2018

“Though Babatundé’s Texas accent, likely close to authentic, makes it difficult to understand some of what’s being said, the performer delivers forceful personification. Confident vocals slip/slide with terrific range and evocative accentuation. Lyrics that insinuate do so with flair. The actor somehow communicates Jefferson’s blindness. Overall feel of Jefferson’s oeuvre is spot on. That material runs one into the next a bit too similarly seems the fault of eliminating other voices.”
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June 20th, 2018

“The storytelling in this creation is a tad convoluted, rarely finding its spirit and the internalized beat. The singing wanders around from good to impressive but never hitting that emotional high we keep waiting for. Oddly enough, Babatundé is more engaging when he takes on the voice and mannerisms of the ladies who came into his life. He seems to connect to their internal life more clearly, as the rest of the time, the threads of Jefferson don’t come together in a compelling narrative.”
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June 21st, 2018

"His narrative, delivered in a thick Southern drawl, is sketchy and poetic, with a number of sequences in which Babatundé changes his voice to play various characters…The script plays second fiddle to over 30 songs…Most of the blues songs…are in the classic vein, but this creates a sense of repetitiveness over the course of the show's intermissionless hour and 25 minutes…The result is a biographically inflected blues concert for aficionados, not the wider public."
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June 20th, 2018

"It is a tour de force performance, with the actor-singer ruminating on Jefferson’s life and singing his repertoire. Developing a distinct, wounded personality, he exhibits the inner longings and passions that Jefferson expressed, in addition to singing a vast number of songs in the style associated with the man who had such an influence on the art of the blues...To the credit of Babatundé, one comes away with a solid impression of the man and his life."
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June 19th, 2018

“The show is sometimes confusing and lacking in fluidity, suffering from truncated musical numbers, abrupt shifts in character, and staccato breaks between the random thoughts being recounted. And the context in which the story is set doesn’t become clear until the closing song...But like the style of the music itself, ‘Lonesome Blues’ is more about feeling than narrative, and Akin Babatundé skillfully delivers.”
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June 28th, 2018

“Refreshingly intimate...The whole piece is sung in a talkin’ blues style...Weiss accompanies the singer on a folk guitar...The connection between the two is palpable...The musical arguably runs a whiff too long, and could benefit if a couple of songs were cut from the piece...Babatunde has the pipes and acting talent to give flesh-and-blood to the legend...This show doesn’t have the glitter and dash of a Broadway musical. But it does have soul.”
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June 21st, 2018

"In an evocative production, the York Theatre Company's world musical salutes Blind Lemon Jefferson...'Lonesome Blues' is not exciting theater. It is not even great fun but its emotion honors the soul of the blues with innovative performances by Babatundé accompanied on guitar by David Weiss. Directed by Katherine Owens, Babatundé poetically expresses Jefferson's era and his psyche, shouting or moaning feelings as he traces his life."
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M
June 23rd, 2018

“Lemon is embodied with stunning authority by Babatundé...’Lonesome Blues’ hits the stage with a grand assuredness about what it wants to say and wants to do...The narrative is fairly short on specifics....But it’s the music that is the heart of the show, and Babatundé delivers it with a rich musicality...If the show falters in any way, it’s that it threatens at times to become survey-like...Nevertheless, ‘Lonesome Blues’ impresses one mightily with the scope and feeling of its subject’s art.”
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June 19th, 2018

"Akin Babatundé is giving a heck of a concert in 'Lonesome Blues' at the York. Babatundé's voice travels from pure falsetto to rumbly bass and back again, and it can thrill every step of the way...However, 'Lonesome Blues' is billed as a musical rather than a concert, and on that level it is less successful...Unfortunately, his story is not clear as written, performed, and directed, and it can be hard to tell who he's talking to and what he's saying. As a result, the show is never really engaging."
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June 22nd, 2018

“If you love the blues and Blind Lemon Jefferson in particular, you will really enjoy this show. Quite a lot of Blind Lemon Jefferson's music is sampled in this show...The show was put together with what the authors could find out about the artist's life, and the record was sketchy and may not be completely accurate...Tour de force performance...It can feel rather long and tedious at times especially for anyone who is not really a fan of the blues.”
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June 22nd, 2018

“Babatundé is a charismatic performer. His training as an actor can make the singing too polished at times, but it also allows him to physically embody the character and move through the history of the story gracefully...Although the music captures the difficulties of being an itinerant and blind black musician, Jefferson’s songs...will have you tapping your toes and clapping along to the music in this simple yet powerful one-man show.”
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