The Derek Woods Band of Greensburg will provide the musical backdrop for this year’s Groundhog Day festivities on February 2 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney.
And if the past is any indication, Woods and his bandmates better start layering now.
“The sets we played were limited to about 10 minutes, because your fingers kind of stop working,” said Peter Flynn, who played Groundhog Day in 2020 with Pittsburgh band The Beagle Brothers. “You can’t play much longer than that.”
That’s not to mention the first set, which for Woods will start around 4:30 am.
“We were interested in that and we played at Punxsutawney a few years ago,” said Woods, 33, of Greensburg. “They were looking for a group this year and contacted us.”
Woods said he remembers being on the other side of the stage when he attended Groundhog Day as a kid.
“I was probably 8 years old,” he said. “So to be able to come back and play for that is pretty surreal.”
A few years earlier, Pittsburgh resident Danny Rectenwald had just started performing with the Beagle Brothers when he found out about the Groundhog Day gig — the hard way.
“We were playing a show the night before it was around 11pm. And when we were done, someone said it was time to head over to Punxsutawney,” Rectenwald said. “I had no idea what it was. I was like, ‘Where’s the hotel?’ and they said, ‘There’s no hotel. We just go over there and stay up all night.’
Armed against the cold in a pair of New Balance tennis shoes and “a kind of warm coat,” Rectenwald said he spent most of the morning trying unsuccessfully to stay warm.
But back in Pittsburgh later that night, he said he got an unexpected surprise that made the chilly concert well worth it.
“I had short hair and a big, bushy beard back then,” he said. “That night I was watching ‘The Daily Show.’ And John Stewart put a picture of us on the screen when they were talking about Punxsutawney, and said they hired “the best Zac Brown cover band in Pittsburgh” – I realized he was talking specifically about me.
The Derek Woods Band will also play a show at Barclay Square in Punxsutawney on February 1 at 4 p.m.