Vegas jam band Moksha bids farewell to singer Sam Lemos

Sam Lemos, second from right, plays his last show with Moksha at LVCS this weekend.
Max Plenke

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After four years as the lead singer of Moksha, the local heroes of jam funk, Sam Lemos is stepping down to embrace the joys and mysterious smells of fatherhood. “It was a tough pill to swallow,” says longtime friend and percussionist Pat Gray. “Sam’s an excellent musician and he had a lot of good songwriting ideas. But we all support his decision. It wasn’t a big fight.”

Sam appeared in the Moksha discography singing “Interface” on 2010 debut album Mammal or Machine, after which he was an easy pick to take over as the band’s fifth member.

Moksha is right in the middle of recording a new album, with a springtime planned release. But Gray says losing Lemos it isn’t going to be a massive setback. “Instead of Sam coming up with vocals after the fact, we’re going to collab on vocal ideas, with more instrumentals,” he says. “You’ll hear more leads from (Brian Triola, keys) and John (Heishman, bass). It’s not going to be a huge change—the majority of the catalog will be just fine. There are just a few songs we won’t play anymore.”

The real impact will be realized next month, when the band buckles down for a marathon jam session, from which Gray hopes to cull a pile of new material the way it used to be: a long jam, recorded, and then cherry-picked from that, the best ideas. The new material will be recorded with engineer and Santana band trombone player Jeff Cressman. “We approached this more like a jazz record than a pop record,” Gray says. “We do most things in one take, and edit in big sections. These songs are probably my favorite thing we’ve recorded.”

Lemos’ final show with the band will be Saturday, December, 28, at LVCS. It’s a rare, cheap show, and hopefully a return to ramping up local gigs after two years of hard touring.

Moksha December 28, 9:30 p.m., $5, LVCS, 382-3531.

  • As the singer approaches 50, his vocals remain a high point, his mix of throaty growls and raspy screams sounding near-perfect.

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