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INTERVIEW: Michael Weiskopf Of The Complete Unknowns Dishes About Upcoming Bay Street Show

T.J. Clemente

The Complete Unknowns are playing at Bay Street over HarborFest weekend. (Courtesy Photo)

There is music and then there is Bob Dylan's music. If you already understand the difference between the two then Saturday, September 7 you need to get yourself to the Bay Street Theater to witness the body of work of Bob Dylan being presented by The Complete Unknowns.

The Complete Unknowns is not just a Bob Dylan tribute band, but so much more. They are a tight skilled group of talented musicians who get together to play the music of Bob Dylan the way they feel it, interpret it, and then present it to the audience with a profound sound that always wins the night.

In an exclusive interview with Hamptons.com, Michael Weiskopf, the founder of The Complete Unknowns, is completely forthcoming about the genius of the band and what to expect during the September 7th Bay Street show.

Weiskopf, a NYC born and raised "child of the sixties," began playing music in his teens, but gave it up because he had a wife and family and as he said, "I didn't want to be broke like all my other musician friends at the time. I went to work, built a company, then I sold it, and went back to playing music and I have doing this for the last 15 years or so."

He reminisced, "We [the Complete Unknowns] went back and played Café' Wha [a historic rock venue in Greenwich Village] and it was a trip. It was like being at hallowed grounds. You can hear the ghosts of the Truggs and Tim Harden and all the folks that used to run around there."

Weiskopf fondly remembers buying his first guitar, a Framus, at Manny's on West 48thin NYC. "It was a good mid-range guitar for the price! I probably paid $80 bucks for it. The first really good guitar that I bought was in1971, it was a Martin and I paid $350 bucks and that was like three week's pay for me. I still have that one. 90 percent of the time now on stage I play a Collings Guitar, I bought it from Mr. Collings out of Austin, Texas [1996]."

Asking about guitars tells a lot about a musician. It usually tells of a humble start and a reverence to the instrument.

When asked about seeing Bob Dylan perform for the first of the so many times he has seen Dylan, Weiskopf has a wonderful story. He went to see Jack Elliott play one night in the 1970's in NYC when Dylan was organizing his Rolling Thunder Revue, and Dylan showed up and played. Dylan really enjoyed the way Jack Elliott played All Along The Watchtower that night."

Weiskopf said, "This year's show at Bay Street will focus on three classic Bob Dylan albums, Planet Waves, Blood on the Tracks, and Desire."

He confided, "We have a basic song list, but we go with what we feel like playing for the audience."

Weiskopf couldn't say enough good things about the band. He did reveal, "They are amazing and talented musicians along as wonderful people and true friends."

The Complete Unknowns consists of: Michael Weiskopf - Vocals, Guitar, and Harmonica; Randolph Hudson - Guitar, Synth, and Vocals; Stuart Sherman - Keyboards; Taka Shimizu - Bass Guitar; Klyph Black - Guitar and Vocals; James Benard -Drums and Percussion; and Alex Sarkis Drums and Percussion.

Tickets to the HarborFest The Complete Unknowns show are $25 to $35.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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