Tonight: Latrobe native Derek Woodz brings rock 'n' roll back at Lava Lounge

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This was going to be the heartbreaking story of a young man who grew up in the shadow of a father who is a widely known blues musician, a man who was always on the road. The boy grew up neglected and resentful and even changed his name.

But changing "Woods" to "Woodz" isn't that much of a firestorm.

And that, it turns out, is the story. There wasn't a firestorm at all. Derek Woodz couldn't be prouder of his father, noted artist Tim Woods of Latrobe.

"He actually just got inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in New York last year," Mr. Woodz said. "He recorded 'The Blues Sessions' with all these legendary blues musicians in their late 90s, including 'Honeyboy' Edwards, who just passed away. He traveled to Chicago and went down South and gathered all these guys together and put an album together.

"He's always been playing and traveling, but he was always there when I was growing up, and he really inspired me. We actually perform together sometimes, but that's a special treat when that happens."

Not that it isn't a treat when Mr. Woodz performs with his own band, The Derek Woodz Band, which dabbles outside the realm of the blues.

"I kind of do my own thing," Mr. Woodz said. "Our group is a blues/rock 'n' roll jam. But you could say I've followed in my father's footsteps. He's definitely influenced me. And there are definite similarities in our singing. You can hear the family voice."

Mr. Woodz, 25, still calls Latrobe home. It's where he first picked up a guitar at the age of 12.

"I was always serious about it and I was playing gigs shortly after that," he said. " When I was in school I was always trying to get everyone to join a rock 'n' roll band with me. I just had a passion for it, and I picked it up really fast at a very young age.

"I was about 14 years old when I had my very first band. It was called A Fall From Grace, but that was a long time ago," he laughed.

He's worked with several bands since then, including a stint with a Los Angeles-based band called The London, with whom he played guitar.

"We actually did some traveling and that sort of got me going," he said. "I was 21 and we were working with Grammy-winning producer Stephen Short. It taught me a lot and helped me out a lot with this group."

After The London broke up, Mr. Woodz recorded some solo stuff.

"It was released online and it got a lot of attention," he said. "I put together a couple guys, you know, working musicians, just to test it out live. And, again, it got a good reaction."

The desire to put together a permanent band brought him back to Western Pennsylvania.

"I knew these guys back home that were incredible musicians, and I knew that if I came back with these songs, it would really grow," he said. "We've been together since 2011, and it's really going great. Everyone's very, very passionate about this group. I do all the writing for the group. And then we go into the studio, and all the guys put in their two cents.

"It's a lot more driven and we're all really pushing for these goals. We've had a lot of really great shows. We opened for Lisa Marie Presley and performed with Rusted Root, and this past summer we played some music festivals. Last month we released our first studio album, 'Dancin.'"

The Derek Woodz Band is a six-piece group that plays music "reminiscent of the energetic '60s and '70s rock 'n' roll, jam-blues vibe," Mr. Woodz said. "It's kind of a new, refreshed form of it. We had to breathe new life into it, but it's making its way back around. A lot of people still love that music. People like to dance and I feel like our music does that."

They will be performing tonight with AMRCNDREAMING at Lava Lounge on the South Side.

"We perform a lot around here. I love it. Feeling the energy from the crowd," Mr. Woodz said. "We've got a great crowd that follows us around. We're actually forming a community with our fan base. They all come out, they know the songs, they sing along, and they dance all night long. There's no better feeling than that."

Lava Lounge is at 2204 E. Carson St. The show starts at 10 p.m. and there is a $5 cover.

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