Ever since I was a kid I have had a strange obsession with hats. From the age of 4th grade on into middle school, I ALWAY had hat on my Christmas or Birthday list. I don't mean ball caps or baseball hats, I mean real hats. The kind your grandpa and your great grandpa used to wear; hats with a brim made out of felt. I loved hats as a kid and I couldn't wait for the chance to go hiking, hunting, or camping where I could dawn a hat and test them out in the great wide open. Even during my summer job at 15 lifeguarding, I would wear a big straw cowboy hat to the pool everyday. There was something about putting on a real hat that made me feel like a man and ready for an adventure.
Now if I am being honest, I know where the obsession started. I have always loved Indiana Jones. I had every Indy movie and my favorite TV show (although now long forgotten) was a show called "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones". He was the man! He hunted for treasure, fought bad guys, got the ladies, knew a ton about history....and to top it off looked super cool doing it all! I even bought myself a big bull whip one year at the Fort Worth Rodeo and used to cary it around my backyard pretending to search for treasure. No one wore a hat better than this guy!
And there was just something about the fashion in the 20's & 30's when wearing a hat was just what you did. You didn't leave the house with out one. Every man owned a good hat and it was a part of their daily attire.
All that being said, I believe owning a good custom hat is a right of passage for a man. Just like every man should own at least one good suit, I think every man should have at least one nice hat. There is just something about a nice real beaver felt hat that is custom fitted just for you that takes you back to another place and time.
The mark of a good hat is they type of felt it is made from. There are hats made from cotton, but the very best hats are those made from felt or fur, and the very best of those are the ones made from 100% beaver felt. Beaver felts are super durable, it is practically waterproof and can stand up against any type of weather. To top it off a good beaver felt hat will last you 20-50 years.
I have brought wearing a hat into my daily routine and it has been a big part of what I wear on stage. When I strap on my guitar and have a good hat on my head, I feel unstoppable.
One of my first hats was a vintage Peterson Brothers hat w/ a short brim. It's a pretty soft rabbit felt. I found this hat an antique store in upstate New York, but it was actually made in Fort Worth.
So with out further ado, here are some of my favorite hats in my collection ::
My first real custom hat I purchased in Santa Fe from Santa Fe Hat Works. It was the first time I ever had my head measured and custom fit it just for me. I wore it through our our Kicking Up Dust Tour. It was a natural beaver felt w/ a wide flat panama style brim and teardrop top.
This is a vintage brown Stetson hat that belonged to my Grandpa. It is a softer felt, and is an open road style shape.
One of my favorite hats is from Chieffalo Vintage Hats in Fort Worth. Roger Chieffalo takes vintage 1950's and 1960's cowboy hats, cleans them up, cuts them down to a 3" inch brim and restyles them w/ new silk and shapes. They are what he calls a "cowboy fedora". His hats are top notch and have a rich history!
This is another hat I purchased from Santa Fe Hat Works. I wore this hat all through out SXSW 2015 when it was pouring down rain the entire weekend. The rain softened up the hat some, but gave it some great character.