Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Old Hat

The actual corner, the actual night in August 2008
Nashville, its a magic town. The first time I went there, it was with two friends and all we had each, was a guitar in our hands.  I went down to the corner with my guitar and I stayed there all day with an open guitar case.

We went down there on a random road trip. One of us goofed off and chased girls (networking), one of us came and went but put in work (specialist), and one of us never left the corner the whole time (grinder). Did we think someone would "discover us" playing on the corner? No. Was that the Goal..?  No... plain and simple reason was because none of us had ever been to Nashville. However, we were all broke with empty pockets and needed to make money just to get home. So we played our music in the street. It feed us and gave us gas money.

People threw money in the case and gave me praise. I met all types who wanted to talk to me. Out of everything that i received that night, one thing became very important.  One man in the evening came up to me and listened to me play on the corner, He stood with his wife on a busy Nashville street.  He was a tall with a wide brimmed felt hat.  He was robust round and sturdy, his cheeks were red from Whiskey, with a perma-smile on his face. When I finished the song, he came up and started to talk to me. I complimented him on the hat and his taste in music. He said to me that he wanted to help me out. He said I needed a better hat then the one I was wearing. So he took the K-Mart Fedora off my head and put his wide brim hat on my mine. He said that was better, and with that put my hat on, and walked off to the next bar...and I never saw him again.
First picture in This old Hat
What I didn't realize is that man just gave me the best hat I have ever owned.  
Clingmans Dome, TN
The Hat was made by The Turner Hat company and was their American Sportsman. It's a felt wool hat, that is crush proof, and it stays warm when its cold or wet.  This hat became my travel companion, able to keep the sun out of my eyes, and the rain off my head. With this old hat as my crown I traveled as musician from coast to coast. It didn't matter if i was Looking down from the top of mountains or Looking Up from Dessert Canyons, I was wearing that old hat. It was a constant accessory, I put guitar picks in the leather when I'm playing a gig, and I put Fly lures in it when I am fishing in the middle of a river.
People would see me playing music in bars, winerys, resterants, and Street performing all over the place. I started to get recognized by some of these passing strangers. They always remembered me as that guy with the big voice. With my appearance though, what made me stand out was this old hat and my big beard. They Would always recognize me by those two things together. To this point, I would met some people I saw at several shows on the street. Since I wasn't singing they didn't recognize me. I stopped to say hello and they said they didn't recognize me without that old hat on. However, if I walk around with this Old hat on then people would come up to me because they recognized me.

A Drawing I made for T-Shirts, stickers, and other stuff
What I realized was that I had unintentional made a brand. It was a form of visual recognition that stood out to people. Plus, I look like a Mountain man walking around the city, which stands out.This old hat is essential for that look just like the big beard.  I decided to go with. Now  I wear this old hat every show I play.  Every piece of media with my face on it is under this old hat.
Benton Falls, South East Tennessee
Over the years I have put a lot of perspiration into the brim, and the sun has faded the color.  The Leather strap has an American flag pin in it from when My father Passed and a piece of jewelry clipped to it I found at a show. The front of it is stained from where my hand always clutches it to either adjust it or remove it. There is sand from Florida as fine as baby powder forever locked into the felt and after it gets warm or wet it has a smell, and not a pleasant one..  No matter were I go at night, I take off that Old hat, lay it down next to me and empty the contents of my pockets into it. I wake up in the morning put that stuff back in my pocket and the hat back on my head. This has been the routine for years.

Now after about a decade, this old hat is dirty, this old hat smells, and this old hat need to be cleaned. However if I'm playing a show or hiking in the woods I'm still wearing this old hat. My girl doesn't want it by the bed though, and I got to wash my head after wearing it before we get close. I can't blame her for that either.So far the only thing ever bad about this old hat has come from the stains of time. Its one of a handful of possessions that I have come to cherish. It was a kingly gift to get, and am forever grateful to that stranger in Nashville. Little did I know those ten years ago, how important a well made American  hat could be. How something seemingly so small could be such an important part of my life. It has helped define me to others as a visual brand. It is the most functional, sturdy and dependable hat I've ever had. It has been tried and tested in blizzards on a mountain side. If its to windy i can literally fold it up and put it in my pocket. I will probably own hats from Turner Hat Company for the rest of my life, because a man from Nashville's one small act of kindness.
Like I said Nashville can be a magic town.

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