Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods will take the stage at the Reading Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 7 and 9 p.m. The band, who started playing the Reading Fair in 2009, describe themselves as a ‘50s and ‘60s Rock-n-Roll Party Band. They play a variety of music spanning 1955 to 1968 – “The golden years of Rock-n-Roll,” as they put it. The classic songs played by Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods have the sound and feel of the artists they cover – artists like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley, Elvis, The Righteous Brothers and Gene Vincent.
They are very popular locally and their website bio proclaims that they have been “entertaining crowds from the resorts in New York’s Catskill Mountains and the Meadowlands of New Jersey to the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds,” for the past 29 years.
The band is comprised of six members, most with nicknames. The inflammatory (pardon the pun) nickname of the group’s eponymous leader is not what you might think, according to him.
“Flamin’ Dick” Weatherholtz got his nickname due to his love of classic hot rods. Early one morning in 1985, after Dick and his friend Tom “Slick” worked all night painting flames over the hood and front fenders of his 1960 Cadillac, they surveyed the job they had done.
“We stepped back from the Caddy and Tom said, “Alright! Flamin’, Dick!” And I said, “Hey, Man ... that would be a great name. I’m going to use that name, Flamin’ Dick and the Hot Rods, with my next oldies Rock-n-Roll Band.
“About one year later, it happened. In 1986, I started forming the group. And here we are, now a few years older, a few pounds heavier, and still digging Rock and Roll, Hot Rod Cars and Guitars.”
The band is comprised of “Flamin’ Dick” on lead vocals and guitar, “G.P.” Glenn Paul Balthaser on bass guitar and vocals, “Squeek” John Zaneski on saxophone, keyboards and vocals, Jack “Flash” Keller on drums and vocals and Keith “Spike” Rentschler on guitar and vocals, with Lee Auchenbach providing further vocal support.
Most of the members are from Robesonia and Reading. “G.P.” is from Lebanon.
Saxophonist “Squeek”, a Pottstown local, speaking for the group, said the following:
“We just love being out in front of people, having fun. And Rock-n-Roll is fun. The fans are always great in Reading. We meet a lot of old friends and we make a lot of new friends up there. Fun’s the reason that we do this.
“We have fun on stage. The Hot Rods are a bunch of good guys, the band’s been together about 28, 29 years now. It was an idea that started with some music. We started as a classic rock band doing one set of oldies every night, you know, ‘50s and ‘60s stuff. People started asking for more of the ‘50s and ‘60s stuff. For a while, we were two bands. We were a band called The Mechanics and then we’d go out on another night playing as Dick and the Hot Rods. We started getting more popular as Dick and the Hot Rods and we decided to just channel our efforts into the ‘50s and ‘60s. We’ve been playing as Dick and the Hot Rods, only, for about 25 or 26 years. It’s a blast. Fun is the best word to describe why we’re doing this.”
As for the Cadillac which gave the group its name? Dick explains: “Well, the Caddy’s gone. Last we heard, it was now pink without flames. But we still enjoy pumping out those hot tunes.”