Chances are you won’t be at Jovita’s in Austin on a Thursday night when the Cornell Hurd Band hosts its weekly hoedown, so this disc is the next best thing. Recorded with pristine clarity at the Texicalli Grille, the 24 tracks on At Large In South Austin, Texas capture the true spirit of a Hurd show in all its musical and comical glory.
Hurd is backed as usual by his never-miss-a-beat eight-piece honky-tonk band as they effortlessly romp through a catalog of classics (Stoney Edwards’ “Two Dollar Toy”, Marty Robbins’ “White Sport Coat”) and vintage Hurd originals (“I Don’t Care What It Is That You Did When You Lived In Fort Worth”, “Tearin’ Up A Yardbird”).
This time out, Hurd’s guests include Johnny Bush doing his little-heard “The Living Dead”, Mitzi Henry on Wanda Jackson’s “Right Or Wrong”, and Wayne “The Train” Hancock paying homage to Jimmie Rodgers on “California Blues”. Hurd’s wife Debra sits in on piano for a number, spelling Cody Nicolas, who spends the disc trading rollicking solos with pedal steel legend Herb Steiner and Vanessa Gordon on fiddle.
Other accomplices include drummer, Karen Biller, who Hurd calls “the Venus of the traps”, and Danny Young, “the Lord of the Board,” playing a custom-made rubboard tuned to the key of the songs. Paul Skelton proves he’s one of the most amusing guitarists in the business, playing unexpected upside-down riffs that sound entirely natural in the setting of the song yet still sit strangely in the ear, as if your brain can’t believe the notes belong together. Out front is Hurd, whose woozy baritone is ideal for the pun-laced lyrics he composes.