Independent country singer-songwriter, Leslie Tom makes her way to Mississippi this week on the second leg of her multipart tour.
Tom and her band will perform at the Ledford House in Oxford at 7:30 p.m Thursday as part of the Hanky Panky tour. The performance will feature songs from Tom’s latest album, “Ain’t it Something, Hank Williams.”
Inspired by sounds of the late Hank Williams, Tom’s latest tour is a combination of tribute songs and original pieces, receiving rave reviews since first recording at Nashville’s Cinderella Sound Studios.
“We’ve always incorporated some of his songs into our setlist, at least for the last couple of years,” Tom said.
Manager and occasional electric guitarist, John Macy, says that the deference toward Hank Williams’ style is part of what separates Tom from other independent country singers.
“The Hank Williams thing kind of puts a bit of intrigue into the equation, especially since he was a male artist,” he said. “You’d more expect it from a guy, so I think it’s made people more curious, and they’ll want to see what it’s about.”
The Hanky Panky tour started in a conversation with a friend about what t-shirts Tom should sell, and her husband coined the slogan “Are you ready for some hanky panky?” Soon after, the slogan became a song, growing into her latest album and the tour of the same name.
“It was just one of those ideas in art where you have an idea of something or nothing, and it turns into something much bigger than you ever expected,” she said.
The Ledford House itself, owned by booking agent and songwriter, Tim Ledford, has been operating as a space for independent artists to perform since 2013.
“It’s the house I grew up in,” Ledford said. “There’s five of us kids who grew up there. We all inherited it, and none of us can agree on what to do with it, so I just have music there.”
Ledford looks specifically to book independent artists looking to play, choosing those with unique songs, and offering them a space to perform for a dedicated audience.
“When they play at the house or a house concert like this, the audience gets into the song,” he said. “They sit there. You don’t have a lot of drunks, in a club, hollering and trying to be louder than the music.”
Tom also works closely with veteran services, partnering with different organizations for each album. She’s currently partnered with Eli’s Fund for Texas A&M University, which pays for veterans’ service animals to receive free veterinary benefits.
“It’s been really awesome to be part of an organization that’s helping veterans,” she said. “My call in life is to serve our military and our veterans, and with every record I have a different partnership, and so it’s been really fun to be a part of the Eli Fund.”
During April, the tour will thread Tom and company through Alabama then back to Tennessee, where the band will go their separate ways until June brings them back for a journey across the West Coast.
As an independent label, most of the band members live different lives when they’re not playing to an audience. Offstage, Tom has two jobs in sales, and a family in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Macy owns Coastal Bend Music, and produces hundreds of records for the likes of Michael Martin Murphey, Richie Furay, Jesse Furay and Ricky Skaggs.
“I’d say most of us are doing that. Most of us are working two and three jobs to make sure we can still keep playing music,” Tom said. “I’m thankful to have work and all those things, but it is absolutely exhausting for sure.”
Despite, the balancing act most of the band members endure, Tom says they’ve become like family over the years, helping one another realize their eventual goals of playing music full-time.
“It started with John Macy, and I would go to the ends of the Earth for him. I love him so much, and all the great work he’s done for me and for our band and for our kind of music,” Tom said.
She sang praises of the rest of her band as well, independent players with jobs and families throughout the U.S., meeting and playing together whenever possible.
“They believe in our sound, they believe in the songs we’re putting out, and I am so blessed, and I am so incredibly thankful for them. “