Hats crafted by local man end up center stage at Grammy Awards

Published: Jan. 29, 2018 at 4:39 PM CST
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Distinctive cowboy hats crafted by a local man ended up at center stage Sunday night at the Grammy Awards in New York City.

The hats worn Sunday night by members of the up and coming country group Midland were made at Standard Hat Works in Waco and they weren’t the first made by Cameron Morris for the band members, whom Morris met four years ago.

"Their lead singer Mark Whystrach contacted me and wanted to get some custom hats made for the Grammys. Anyway, Mark he loves our stuff and we’re kind of good friends. He just said, ‘man I want you to do this for me,’ and I said ‘of course,’” Morris said.

Morris started out in construction, but put his hands to work in a different business after suffering corporate burnout.

"I heard through the grapevine that Standard Hat Works was about to close down and I thought that would be a cool business to own," said Morris.

In 2013, Morris took over the business, which was founded in 1909.

Then he set about the art of making hats.

“I compare it a lot to two things. One of them is finish carpentry. If anybody has ever done finish carpentry and had to build furniture, it's a lot like that. There’s a lot of sanding, worrying about finishes and how things feel. It's also kind of like being a hair stylist to, because when you're up there shaping hats you're also constantly talking to people and interacting with people. You have to be a people person and be able to talk a little bit," said Morris.

Morris uses the same machines that have done the job for generations.

“There are probably 10 to 12 of these machines left in the United States, if that,” Morris said.

One hat takes about 10 hours to make from start to finish, and it’s that type of attention to detail that caught the attention of the band.

The band, formed in Dripping Springs, and its members, Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson and Cameron Duddy, were nominated for Grammys for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song for “Drinkin’ Problem.”

They didn’t come home with an award, but, as Morris predicted, the hats created a stir.

“I will say they probably will be one of the most noticed bands and groups there because I know what they're going to be wearing and it's going to attract some attention,” he said last week before the awards show.