Extended Audio Session Below:
Mo7s recorded a seven-song session Jan. 21 at The Sound Room at WEEU Broadcasting Co.
The session included five Mo7s originals, as well as covers of ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses” and Tom Waits’ “Hang on St. Christopher.” All of the songs but one are from the recently released “Hate Mail From a Love Child” CD.
Mo7s showcases the songwriting, guitar playing and singing of Berks Countians Dave Lewis and Amy Tomaszewski.
The Sound Room is a joint venture of the Reading Eagle and WEEU 830 AM, Berks County’s only locally owned radio station.
From their website:
The brainchild of Dave Lewis, the Reading, PA based duo of Mo7s started as a recording project in the summer of 2012. Lewis’ vision was to bring together many different musicians, instruments, and styles of music to his own original songs as well as to create a fresh and unique approach to some classic cover tunes. Not wanting to just recreate the cover songs, the aim was to reinvent and “rewrite” them for this disc. Amy Tomaszewski was brought in to Lewis’ Gangsta Beagle Studio to lend her vocals to the first song of the project. It was quickly decided that she would remain on and have her voice become the one constant and familiar aspect to the recording sessions. All of this culminated in the release of their full-length, 15-song debut album “Hate Mail From A Love Child” in late summer of 2014. A total of 19 musicians, from both Southeastern PA and around the world, including New York, Tokyo, and Nashville, are featured on the album. Multiple tracks from “Hate Mail” have received airplay on Y102 FM and 830 AM WEEU in Reading, and the album itself was named #7 in Y102’s Homebrewed Top 11 Albums of 2014. In describing the album, the Reading Eagle declared, “A spirit of experimentation lifts Mo7s… ‘Hate Mail From a Love Child,’ is a mash-up of blues, techno, punk, reggae and straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll all tied together by Lewis’ guitar and the soulful vocal stylings of Amy Tomaszewski.”
Going beyond the studio, Mo7s also performs live shows both as a guitar/vocal duo and as a four piece band with drums and bass. Performing throughout Southeastern PA, Mo7s has played venues as varied as Musikfest, First Energy Stadium, Kutztown University, and Parx Casino. They pull their live repertoire from their own catalog of originals as well as 1950’s and 1960’s rock, rockabilly, and country. Dave’s straightforward rock ‘n’ roll approach to the guitar is infused with a raw, bluesy style that makes a strong musical statement, as does the rich, smoky tone of Amy’s powerful voice, and their tight vocal harmonies together.
Mo7s’ sophomore album, “Gift Horse,” released in spring of 2016, is a departure from “Hate Mail.” This recording reflects more of the sound that they have crafted over the past couple years of performing, and utilizes their live backing band to produce an all original 10 song album. For Mo7s, the future lies in continuing to write and record new material, live performances to support their catalog, and expanding their reach into new markets and venues.
A spirit of experimentation lifts Mo7s
Thursday January 29, 2015 12:01 AM
By Don Botch
Dave Lewis is a local-music lifer who started playing out in the late ’70s, when he was all of 13 years old. Needless to say, he has made many friends along his musical journey.
For his latest endeavor, Mo7s, Lewis called upon some of those friends – 18 in all – to help him record 15 songs over the course of two years, using Gangsta Beagle Studio at his Mount Penn home as ground zero.
The finished product, “Hate Mail From a Love Child,” is a mash-up of blues, techno, punk, reggae and straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll all tied together by Lewis’ guitar and the soulful vocal stylings of Amy Tomaszewski.
Lewis and Tomaszewski met in September 2011 when Lewis and his makeshift band, the Shemps, were hosting weekly open mics at the Bowl Grille in Exeter Township and she came out to perform at the urging of her guitar teacher, Shemps member Rod DeGeorge.
Not long thereafter, when Lewis decided to make “Hate Mail,” he thought Tomaszewski’s voice would be a perfect fit for the first song he wanted to record, a “bluesy, trippy, Pink Floydy” version of ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses,” so he invited her over.
“Hearing her sing live is one thing,” he said during an interview last week in The Sound Room at WEEU, where Mo7s played a 35-minute session. “But once I got her isolated in the studio that day, I said, ‘You know what, this album could use one cohesive thing throughout to keep that familiarity. Would you like to sing everything on it?’ ”
Tomaszewski agreed, and as a result, her voice is heard on 14 of the 15 tracks. (The one exception is a cover of Santo & Johnny’s 1959 instrumental hit “Sleep Walk.”)
A spirit of experimentation pervaded the project, as evidenced by the sound effects-filled, instrument-free take on Roger Miller’s classic “King of the Road,” for which Tomaszewski went into the booth wearing safety goggles and work gloves and took a sledgehammer to a VCR.
“We broke glass, we swept glass up, we recorded closing my front door, raking metal across concrete,” Lewis explained, adding that to simulate the sound of a train for the song about a hobo, they gained after-hours access to the Wilbur Chocolate factory in Lititz and recorded the candy-making machinery.
The CD also contains four other reconceived covers: a techno version of Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” a reggae version of Foreigner’s “Urgent” (with friend-of-a-friend Bob Stoyko on flugelhorn), a garage-rock version of Tom Waits’ “Hang on St. Christopher” and a punk version of a minute-long nonsensical public-domain song called “Knothole” that Lewis remembered Bugs Bunny singing on a “Looney Tunes” cartoon.
Not all of the music was recorded at Lewis’ studio. For instance, for his original song “Pretty Good Year,” he tapped his friend Nicholas Donato to provide the bass line, but that process was complicated by the minor detail of Donato living in Tokyo, so the whole thing was tackled electronically via online file transfers.
Contributing musicians ranged in age from 12 (at the time of the recording) to mid-50s, with the youngest being Conlan Kerschner of the award-winning Mountain Folk Youth Bluegrass Jam Group, who played banjo on the Tomaszewski-penned “Sweet Young Kid” and the bonus track, a country version of Lewis’ “Verb Your Noun,” which appears earlier on the CD as a blues number.
Dave Lewis and Amy Tomaszewski are well-known in local-music circles.
As children, Lewis and his friend, Craig Conrad (now of the local band Axis), formed a band called Scoria, which performed in bars from the time they were 13 to 15, a feat made possible by the fact that Lewis’ father, Jim, was the bassist/guardian.
Jim Lewis recalled long road trips for gigs in the Coal Region in the band’s 26-foot school bus, with most of the seats removed and the back packed full of stage, sound and lighting equipment.
Load in and set up would take hours, he said, adding, “We turned out more breakers than you can imagine.”
Since those halcyon father-son days, Dave Lewis has been in numerous bands, including Take Two, Spoiled Brat and the legendary Ga Ga Gorilla, which played out from 1993 to 2007 and, to the delight of many, reunited last summer.
These days, besides Mo7s (which is pronounced “moe-sevens” and derives from the word SLOW viewed upside-down), the Shemps (which is looking for a new home for its open mic gigs) and Ga Ga Gorilla, Lewis plays in Uncle Thirsty, and also repairs instruments.
Tomaszewski, meanwhile, was a mainstay on the local scene in the early 2000s, playing solo and in “chick shows,” as she called them, with singer-songwriters Jolene, Christy Jefferson and Priscilla Ahn.
After a few years out of the limelight, she’s happy to be back singing and strumming with Mo7s and in a duo called Amy & Josh with Josh Heller, who contributed to three songs on the Mo7s CD.
For Lewis and Tomaszewski, who are involved romantically, there’s an undeniable musical chemistry that starts with their vocals.
“Anywhere we play, people who hear us the first time say, ‘You guys harmonize really well,’ ” Lewis said.
It almost catches listeners off-guard, her naturally deep, smoky voice – “You’d expect her to be drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes in between songs,” Lewis laughed – layered with his high harmonies.
“I’m obviously a petite person,” Tomaszewski said, “so they expect a high, squeaky voice.”
“And I’m doing the high part over top of what she’s doing,” Lewis added. “I think that’s where the richness of the vocals comes in. That clicked right away. That’s something we didn’t have to really work at.”
While Lewis is older by 16 years, the two share similar tastes in music.
He grew up diving into his father’s record collection heavy on Beach Boys and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
“And she’s a very old soul as to what she likes: Beatles, Dylan, Stones,” he said. “So you’re going back (to a) ’60s and ’70s mind-set.”
They’re justifiably proud of their musical labor of love, and have gotten lots of compliments on it.
“People who have heard it love it,” Lewis said.
While Mo7s started out as just a recording project, it has evolved into a live duo and, as of a couple of weeks ago, into a full-on rockabilly band with new members Rich Freese on upright bass and Rick Tomlinson on drums.
Mo7s’ schedule is filling up, with gigs set for Saturday at Flanagan’s Pub in Shillington and others over the next few weeks at Young Ones Records on Feb. 5, the Evergreen Club on Feb. 7, Shirley’s Cafe & Tequila Bar on Feb. 12 and Klinger’s on Carsonia on Feb. 19.
Lewis and Tomaszewski concluded by encouraging support for local live music.
“Get out there and pay attention to what people are playing,” he said, “because if you don’t, it’s going to go away.”
Contact Don Botch: 610-371-5055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.