Tep’s Villa Roma may be best known for its salad bar and heaping portions of Italian fare, but it will soon be South Lake Tahoe’s newest spot for live music. Tep’s will hold a number of concerts in the coming weeks, starting Thursday, when funk rock band Moksha opens the venue.
Tep’s owner, Dan Tepper, has been considering holding live music events at his restaurant for some time, he said.
“We already do a lot of weddings and parties, so we’ve had live music for private parties before,” Tepper said. “After attending and listening to several community meetings, at LTVA, Chamber of Commerce and City Council meetings, I kept hearing how South Lake Tahoe needs more specialty events, especially during the off-season. I was approached by Ryan at Pet Projekt Presents. We met several times and seemed to be all on the same page, so we figured we’d give it a try.
“We’re kind of thinking of a Tep’s winter concert series,” he said. “Everyone has summer concerts, so we were thinking about doing a winter concert series.”
Pet Projekts has booked three initial gigs for the locale.
“That’s our grand experiment, we’ll see how it goes,” Tepper said.
The fun starts Thursday night with Moksha.
Based in Las Vegas, Moksha is John Heishman (bass, vocals), Brian Triola (organ, keys, vocals), Pat Gray (drums and percussion), Jeremy Parks (guitar, lap steel), and Sam Lemos (vocals). The group has been rocking crowds since 2005 with its far-reaching sonic array, a blend of funk, rock, reggae and much more.
Now, Moksha is on tour with a number of guests in the horn section, saxophonists Peter Apfelbaum and Skerik and trumpeter Jen Hartswick.
“We’re honored to play with these horns,” Heishman told Lake Tahoe Action. “Peter and Skerik are fantastic soloists; Jen as well, great energy.”
The band has been in the studio recently, recording tracks for an upcoming album. No release date has been set yet.
“We’re thinking probably spring of next year,” Heishman said. “We’re in the process right now. We have a couple of songs completed and we’re just tracking a bunch right now.”
The recording sessions have featured a number of guest artists, including Jeff Cressman, of Santana and Trey Anastasio Band.
Moksha has been testing some of the new material on its current tour.
“We’ll be playing some of those songs live on this tour, we probably have about five or six of those songs in the mix,” Heishman said. “We’ve been working those out for a little while now, developing them live. We make adjustments, you know. Some of our songs we’re adding horn parts and doing new things every night.
“There’s this one that’s real dark, it almost has this Tool feel,” he said. “Really Arabic horns on it, kind of crazy, and then it blends into this plateau, you know, building uphill with this craziness, and then it kind of releases. It’s called ‘Obtuse.’”
Playing a brand-new venue for the first time, Moksha isn’t planning on holding back Thursday.
“We have a tendency to feel like we need to get people dancing a lot, so we’ll do a lot of dance and funk things, try to mix the horns in there evenly, so it keeps the crowd going,” Heishman said. “It’s definitely a hard dynamic when you’re in front of crowds that you feel like aren’t 100 percent familiar with your music, you feel like you have to win them over. We’ll try to hit them over the head with some horns, some heavy funk.”
Aside from the upcoming album release, Moksha is excited for the summer touring schedule. The band is currently booking some high-profile festivals, but was unable to provide specific details.
“We’re getting a lot of festival dates this summer,” Heishman said. “We have this horn lineup for multiple runs throughout the year. We’re getting calls all over the place to come play, we feel like it’s really starting to snowball.”