CNBC's Steve Liesman Reveals The History Of His Awesome 'Deadhead' Band



CNBC’s Steve Liesman is a huge fan of Grateful Dead.When he’s not interviewing a Fed president or attending a Ben Bernanke presser, the senior economics reporter is probably jamming with his band. 

Liesman, a self-proclaimed “Deadhead,” is a guitarist for a group called The Mooncussers.  

His band, which plays both covers (Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Allman Brothers, Beatles, etc.) and its own original songs, had a gig at Alison Eighteen in New York’s Flatiron District.

We emailed Liesman a few questions about his band and choice in music.  Check out his responses below. 

Clusterstock: How/when did this band start? 

Steve Liesman:  I met this guy Scott Bardolf (rhythm and vocals) through a music internet site. Through some cautious messaging, we realised we lived down the road from each other and pretty much knew all the same music. Then I brought over Peter, an unbelievable all-around musician, from another band I played in. He was a guitar player but loves bass and has a great voice. 

We found the drummer, Dan Chopper Carillo, when he sat for three songs at 2 in the morning one night at a bar in Yorktown. 

Dave Gross the mandolin player is another CNBCer.

C:  How did you all come up with the name The Mooncussers?

SL:  Long ago, I read a book about Cape Cod, where I go every year, by Thoreau. He walked from Boston to Provincetown in the 1800s and wrote about what he saw. He described these people, the Mooncussers, who lit fires on the beach to trick ships into thinking the fires were lighthouses. The ships would run aground on reefs and the Mooncussers would scavenge the remains. They would cuss the moon because their ruse wouldn’t work if the moon was out. 

I told myself back then, if I ever got a chance, I’d name a band the Mooncussers. Finally, I got a chance. 

C:  Can you describe the style of music you all play? 

SL:  Scott and I are both pretty serious Deadheads, and both play in electric Dead bands and have for years. Peter never did but always wanted to. We thought of this as a way to explore their more obscure acoustic music and work some other songs, like Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Allmans, Beatles into the repertoire. We’re also experimenting with some more recent stuff and originals. Ultimately, I’d love if this band was half original music. But these are early days. 

What binds it together is five guys who just like to play and we’ve played for 200 people and did a third set once because there were two people in the room.

C:  Any memorable performances? Or funny stories with the band?  

SL:  Scott fell of a ladder last week fixing his new house and couldn’t make the gig. We’ve only done five shows, so they are all kind of memorable. Main thing is we seem to get better each time.

C: I heard you can play the banjo in addition to the guitar.  What other instruments do you play?

SL:  I can’t play the banjo but wouldn’t mind if you perpetrated that myth. Just a little bass on the side.

C:  Who is your favourite band?  What’s your favourite song?   

SL:  So, I love the Grateful dead. There aren’t many of their songs I haven’t played. Love the Band and I’m a huge Dylan fan. One year in college, I learned to play the entire Blood on the Tracks album.

What’s cool right now is when I take my 14-year old kid to baseball games, he takes out his phone and starts playing all this great new music. It’s a nice way we connect. 

favourite song? Weather Report Suite.

Check out Liesman and his band performing Creedence Clearwater’s “Proud Mary.” 

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