The Cornell Hurd Band

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

The Cornell Hurd Band

Cen-Tex Serenade (Behemoth)

There may be no more salient testament to the vibrancy of live music in Austin than experiencing the Cornell Hurd Band every Thursday night at Jovita's. Guitarist Hurd and his C&W orchestra are rooted in the Western swing of Bob Wills, but their exhaustive repertoire spans eras and genres offering something for everyone. Cen-Tex Serenade, the CHB's 12th album, embraces this family platter philosophy with relish, while maintaining an iconoclastic approach to the music that keeps it fresh. They're able to go from Hurd and fiddler Howard Kalish's jaunty ode to mature women ("I Play With Girls My Own Age") to pianist Cody Nicolas' heartfelt tribute to the Columbia astronauts ("Forever in the Texas Sky") without revealing any seams. "Brother, It's All Lunchmeat to Me" would've surely put a smile on Spike Jones' mug with its lip-smacking enthusiasm for the great taste of various endangered species. Texana Dame Conni Hancock's raspy "Let's Flirt" raises room temperature only to be quenched by the smart allure of Dee Lannon's "Tall Drink of Water." The band even manages to squeeze new life out of well-trod oldies like "Spanish Harlem" and "Groovy Kind of Love." Just when you think you've heard it all, out comes Uncle Raoul Hurd & the After Hours Orchestra for some beat poetry in the vein of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Packed with 28 tracks, Serenade is one cherry deal.

***.5 

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