America has seen a resurgence of ballroom dancing and "lounge music" over the last few years, yet this music has been around for many years and for almost as long, the Nash Hernandez Orchestra has been playing this music, when it was "cool" and even when it wasn't. The Nash Hernandez Orchestra is the longest-running big band in the Austin area. A twelve-piece band, the group was established in 1949 by trumpeter Nash Hernandez. Initially comprised of all Hispanic musicians that Hernandez himself taught, the group has had many musicians come through the ranks, but the sound has always remained the same. Many musicians who performed in the group went on to lead their own groups and have become prominent musicians in the Austin music scene. Musicians such as Mitch Watkins, Tomas Ramirez, Tim Torres, Dave Gutierrez, John Mills, and Mike Mordecai, to name only a few, all began their career in the Austin area working in the Nash Hernandez Orchestra. Nash Hernandez fell in love with the big band style while a member of the Army Air Corp during World War II. He worked side-by-side with many musicians from the popular big bands of that golden era of music who were also serving their country in the war. After the war, he moved to Austin and worked with Matt Velasquez. In 1949 he decided to start his own band. The band did all the popular big band swing of the era, but in addition, the group also performed the Latin music of Perez Prado, Tito Puente and Xavier Cugat. This made the group popular with a wide variety of people. Over the years, Nash performed for numerous politicians, the Austin Senators baseball team, numerous corporate parties, and generations of weddings. In 1975, Nash was named Ambassador of Goodwill by Governor Dolph Brisco, for whom Nash had performed in 1973 at Governor Brisco's Inaugural Ball. In addition, Nash Hernandez was twice honored by the city of Austin when the city council proclaimed Nash Hernandez Day on October 26, 1975 and again on July 2, 1993. In that same year, he was also honored by the Texas Senate with a proclamation sponsored by the Honorable Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. In 1994, he was recognized by Vice-President Al Gore for his contributions in the state. It was a sad day for the Austin music scene when Nash Hernandez passed away on June 26, 1994. Today, the tradition continues on under the direction of Nash's son, drummer Ruben Hernandez, who began playing with the group at the age of eleven. It was Nash's wish before he died that Ruben continue the band and with the help and support of the family, Ruben has done that. The group continues to play to enthusiastic audiences and in 1999, the band's fiftieth anniversary year, the Austin City Council and Mayor Kirk Watson proclaimed September 9 as Nash Hernandez Orchestra Day, the third such time the band has been honored in this way. Under his direction, Ruben plans to continue the Nash Hernandez Orchestra well into the 21st century. Be a part of history and come hear the band as they continue to perform in the Austin area and throughout Texas.
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