Trumpeter, Nash Hernandez, began the Nash Hernandez Orchestra in 1949. The initial musicians of the band were all Hispanic, many of whom were taught to play by Nash. Several of those pioneering musicians went on to form their own bands in the early Tejano genre. They included Tim Torres, Abel and Dave Gutierrez, and Ruben Sanchez. Other past members of the band who have achieved recognition on the local and national stage are Mike Mordecai, John Mills, Mitch Watkins, Tomas Ramirez, Martin Banks, Larry Williams, Brian Shaw, and Harvey Pittel, among many others.
The diversity of the musicians in the band draws a wide fan base and also attracts many politicians who like the diversity of the orchestra’s audiences. The orchestra has played numerous political fundraisers for candidates whom we felt had the best interests of both the city of Austin and state of Texas. Some of those politicians included former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, the late Congressman J J “Jake” Pickle, the late Governor Dolph Briscoe, and current Congressman Lloyd Doggett.
The orchestra has always been available to perform fundraisers for various charities and art institutes, such as St. Ignatius Catholic Church, St. Williams Catholic Church, Sacred Hearts Women’s Clinic, Diabetes Association of Austin, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, and the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens Museum. Nash was named Ambassador of Goodwill in 1975 by Governor Dolph Briscoe for his charitable contributions to the state. In 1994, he received a letter of appreciation from then Vice-President Al Gore for all of his charitable work and community service.
Nash Hernandez has received, posthumously, many awards and recognition from both the City of Austin and the State of Texas for his services to the Austin community. Nash was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and seven years later, Festival Beach Road, near his home, was renamed Nash Hernandez Sr. Road through the actions of the Austin City Council, Austin Latino Music Association (ALMA), and city councilman, Raul Alvarez. He was also recognized by ALMA as an “Idolo Del Barrio,”or Idol of the Neighborhood. In 2008, Nash was one of the first ten honorees of the Long Center Walk of Honor with a plaque of his image. Later that same year, a statue of Nash was dedicated on the north bank of Lady Bird Lake. Recently, a second street located in the Mueller Neighborhood was named after Nash as Hernandez Street. It intersects with Vaughan Street, named for another iconic Texas Legend, Stevie Ray Vaughan. The band continues under the direction of his youngest son, Ruben Hernandez, who began playing drums in the orchestra at the age of 11. Ruben continues the community service of the orchestra and has been recognized by the Texas State Senate for his continuing support of the Austin community. In 2012, Ruben was also recognized by ALMA as an “Idolo Del Barrio.”
After seven decades of performing in and around Austin and Texas, we still receive overwhelming feedback from our fans and clients. We remain as strong as ever, thanks to the resurgence of swing music and new fans gained through all of our performances. The orchestra has played for generations of families and it’s not uncommon for the orchestra to play a 50th wedding anniversary of a couple for whom we originally played for when they married. We have also played many weddings for the children of couples who celebrated their marriage to the sounds of the Nash Hernandez Orchestra. Celebrate with us as we mark our 71st anniversary in the entertainment industry.