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New York | 1h 25m | Already closed

Lonesome Blues

From 13 critic and 62 member reviews
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. More…

Discovered on a street corner in the Deep Ellum section of Dallas, Texas in 1925, Jefferson made more than 80 records over the next four years, becoming one the most prolific and influential performers of his generation and propelling the growth of rhythm and blues, soul, doo-wop, rap, and hip-hop.



85
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"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." Full Review

80
Theater Pizzazz

“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.” Full Review

80
Musical Theater Review

“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.” Full Review

80
Show Showdown

"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 eng... Full Review

80
Off Off Online

“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.” Full Review

75
DC Metro Theater Arts

“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.” Full Review

75
TheaterScene.com

“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.” Full Review

73
City Cabaret

"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." Full Review

70
Says Me Says Mom

“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.” Full Review

67
Front Mezz Junkies

“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.” Full Review

65
Theatre's Leiter Side

"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." Full Review

60
TheaterScene.net

“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.” Full Review

40
Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review


95
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great singing

See it if if you love the blues, and want to know more about a under-appreciated musical icon

Don't see it if You don't like one-person musicals

85
Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Blusey

See it if If you like the blues or American roots music. Of if you just like to hear the unamplified voice of a great singer

Don't see it if If you don't care for the blues or American roots music

Also If you like the blues or American roots music you'll love this. A one ... Read more Read less

85
Ambitious, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like Texas blues. Blind Lemon is the foundation of this genre. An incredible musician to learn about.

Don't see it if you don't like one-man shows. Exploring new themes.

81
Delightful, Cliched, Slow, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You're interested in music history especially forgotten hero types.

Don't see it if you need a multi-layered complex plot or don't like one-man shows.

80
Interesting insight into blind lemon jefferson's life and music

See it if You enjoy one-man shows with good singing.

Don't see it if You dislike one-man shows

80
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Profound, Great singing

See it if You like blues, you like history of music, for a nice night out, Mr Babatunde became all the characters he portrayed. Great singing too

Don't see it if You don't like blues, or one man shows. Or if you expect elaborate stage or sets. Just sit back and enjoy

78
Great acting, Entertaining, 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.

Also I did not know anything about Blind Lemon Jefferson. You do not get a ... Read more Read less

77
Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining, Great blues guitar

See it if you love early blues and want to experience a great blues icon...with bits of his history.

Don't see it if you are expecting a biography of Jefferson or don't care for early blues music

77
Absorbing, Slow, Great singing

See it if You like old 1920s and earlier blues. You’re interested in the life of Blind Lemon Jefferson. You want to hear great singing.

Don't see it if You want something lighthearted or modern. You want a show with a definite plot or in depth anecdotes. You don’t like the blues.

Also Great singing and interesting subject matter. I took someone who was n... Read more Read less

76
Absorbing, Intelligent, Great singing

See it if Wonderful blues music

Don't see it if Don’t like blues music

76
Delightful, Refreshing, Relevant, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like blues music and learn about struggle of a blind musician during great depression.The music was great and the actor was entertaining

Don't see it if You do not like one man show or blues music per se. there is no intermission and the elevator (few flights down) was out of order.

Also It is difficult and too much pressure when it was one act/man show but... Read more Read less

75
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if you enjoy powerhouse voices an discovering an overlooked person in music history.

Don't see it if you want an large production was many cast members.

75
Ambitious, Indulgent, Slow

See it if You are a Blues enthusiast or interested in musical history. Great guitar, some good singing but sounds too much the same.

Don't see it if You have no interest I the Blues and like a lot of action.

72
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You like the blues.

Don't see it if You don't like one man shows and if you dislike the blues.

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.

Also The play, while interesting and engaging, feels long because the show ... Read more Read less

60
Disappointing, Slow, Good acting, Good singing

See it if you are a big fan of the blues especially Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Don't see it if if you do not like the blues, if you do not like or are unfamiliar with Blind Lemon Jefferson and/or if you don't like one person shows.

60
Disappointing

See it if you want to see a one-man show that is mostly singing.

Don't see it if you want to see more acting than singing.

Also I really wanted to love this. My preference would be to see Blind Lemo... Read more Read less

23
Disappointing

See it if You want to hear a great blues guitarist who accompanies the singer.

Don't see it if You don't have patience for a haphazard story.

87
Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You like the blues and an imaginative retelling of one of the greatest blues musicians of which people know little about.

Don't see it if You don't like one-man shows, or the blues.

85
Ambitious, Resonant

See it if you enjoy old school blues music performed by an incredible guitarist, and one man shows.

Don't see it if You don't like one man shows or musicals based off of real people/events.

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy a strong performance from a captivating actor

Don't see it if you dislike one-person shows.

89
During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Riveting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see a compelling summary of the life of a blues great

Don't see it if you don't like blues or one man shows

88
During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You appreciate the history of American music and blues or want to learn about it through the life of Jefferson. Fantastically acted and sung

Don't see it if If you don’t like one man shows or shows without intermission. If you have trouble climbing stairs as the theater is down 5 flights and up 1

85
During previews
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Must see, Slow, Great singing

See it if want to know more about Lemon Jefferson and his legend.

Don't see it if you don't like solo shows.

83
During previews
Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You enjoy old-time blues / jazz

Don't see it if you don't enjoy "blues/jazz"


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