Nash Hernández, trumpet player and orquesta leader, was born Ignacio Hernández to Abraham and Theodora Hernández on February 1, 1922, in New Braunfels, Texas. He grew up in Fredericksburg and learned to play the trumpet in high school. He began his music career by performing in German polka bands. During World War II, he was a bugler in the United States Air Corps Service. There he played with members of some of the big bands. Hernández married Minnie Salinas in 1944, and they settled in Austin where he played with Matt Velasquez and the Latineers.
Nash formed his own band, the Nash Hernández Orchestra, in 1949, and they played the musical styles of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Perez Prado, and Xavier Cugat. Hernández’s bands played many club dates and weddings and also special events in Austin such as Gov. Dolph Briscoe's Inaugural Ball and Laguna Gloria Museum Fiestas. For a consistent sound and performance Hernández required that all his band members be able to read music. He taught note reading to area Mexican-American youths who went on to play in his orchestra. Numerous musicians played in his orchestra including Dave and Abel Gutíerrez, Manuel Donley, Tim Torres, Ruben Sanchez, and Clifford Zirkel. Other musicians who got their start with Nash included Mike Mordecai, John Mills, Tomas Ramírez, Mitch Watkins, Martin Banks, Paul Ostermayer, and Steve Zirkel.
In the 1970s Hernández started Sonora Royale de Nash Hernández, specializing in the musical style of tropical Latin groups. Throughout his career he played countless fundraisers for charities and politicians. In 1975 he received the title of Ambassador of Goodwill from Gov. Dolph Briscoe. On two different occasions the Austin mayor and city council declared a “Nash Hernández Day”—on October 26, 1975, and July 2, 1993. The Texas Senate recognized him for his many contributions to Texas music, and he received a letter of commendation from Vice President Al Gore in February 1994.
Nash Hernández died on June 26, 1994, leaving behind many who have succeeded due to his generosity. He was survived by his wife and four children. His son Ruben Hernández, a drummer, became bandleader of the orchestra and established the Nash Hernández Orchestra Foundation to award music scholarships to underprivileged children. Hernández was posthumously inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 1999. The Nash Hernández Orchestra was honored in 2001 with the Austin Latino Music Association’s Idolos Del Barrio Award. Festival Beach Road was renamed for Nash Hernández in 2006 as part of East Austin’s Trail of Tejano Legends. In 2008 he was an inaugural inductee into the Austin Music Memorial. In the 2010s the orchestra continued to perform as the longest-running big band in Austin.