Leslie & the Ly’s.
Dust off your favorite gem sweater for Leslie & the Ly’s
Published on March 10th, 2014 | by Joe Lawler
Gem sweaters are a Midwestern thing.
For the last month, Ames diva Leslie Hall and her band Leslie & the Ly’s have been crisscrossing the country, playing shows all over. But when the shows are outside the Midwest, the concentration of fans wearing gem sweaters goes down.
“I do think it’s regional,” Hall said during a phone interview from the road. “As we head south, they’re very rare. If someone there is wearing one, you know they’re a true super fan. In the Midwest, everyone is wearing them. It’s the look of our mothers and grandmothers and everyone can get one at the local Goodwill. But we do find a lot of people are gemming T-shirts.”
Hall’s music was born out of the bejeweled sweaters our older female relatives wore. She first rose to Internet fame thanks to the website gemsweater.com. She started making music so she would have something to sell in the the website’s store. So she wrote songs about gem sweaters, then pants, fabrics, snacking, crafting and showers.
“Go with what you know,” Hall said.
For years, Hall’s tour bus also served as a mobile gem sweater museum. She said her dad had turned it into an ISU tailgating vehicle before he realized it was “a hunk of crap” and gave it back to Hall. For now, most of the gem sweaters are in storage, but Hall hopes to take the gem sweaters back on the road some day.
“That dream is not dead,” she said.
Hall said she’s received many gifts on the current tour. Some “gifts” she couldn’t keep — a woman in Chicago had a tattoo of Hall’s face on her leg and some men in Alabama mooned the group while driving. But the band has also received vegan ice cream, stickers and several paintings.
“People bring paintings; we’ve gotten like six of them,” Hall said. “It’s just so awesome, because I do have a room dedicated to me. I can’t wait to get home and hang them up.”
Once she’s back in Iowa, Hall plans to work on more material with an album by Titus Jones, who did remixes for last fall’s “Songs in the Key of Gold” album.
Hall has picked up a younger fan base thanks to appearances on Nick Jr.’s “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “The Aquabats! Super Show!” (Hub Network) and Hall would like to do an album of children’s music for those youngsters.
“Enough with these drunks,” she said. “I want to play for an audience I don’t have to tell to keep their clothes on. I’d love to play public libraries or the bandshell in Ames. We did the Iowa State Fair and it was so fun to see kids in the audience. I guess I want to push that angle some more.”
After the Des Moines show, Leslie & the Ly’s have a few more Midwest shows, then the gold spandex returns to Ames while Hall works on her next step in world domination.
“Des Moines, we’re gonna touch ya, then come back and lounge on ya,” Hall said. “We’re going to be the new faces of Des Moines.
“I envision billboards.”
Leslie & the Ly’s
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door