These past few weeks, longtime county resident Chris Light has been putting finishing touches on his latest creations: hats, mostly cowboy style, that he crafts from wood.
He wants to give an assortment of them to country star Willie Nelson when he performs Saturday night at Celebrate Virginia Live in Fredericksburg.
”I met him briefly years ago at one of his famous birthday concerts/block parties when I was living in Austin,” said Light, who still sports the same ponytail style he had then.
“He wouldn’t remember me, but he made an impression on me as such a nice guy. I’d like him to have a few of my hats to know how much we all appreciate his music.”
Chris and Patsy Light with Willie Nelson
by Rob Hedelt
Chris Light wasn’t sure he’d get to give legendary country singer Willie Nelson the wooden cowboy hats he’d turned on his Spotsylvania County lathe.
But with help from friends, Celebrate Virginia Live! officials and Nelson’s own people, Light’s wish came true.
Things were tense for a few minutes as Light and his wife, Patsy, were escorted backstage May 19 to wait for the singer who made “On the Road Again” a national touring anthem.
“For a while waiting back there, I just grabbed a seat on the stairs of an 18-wheeler,” said Light, who lost part of his left leg not long ago to a medical condition.
But then Nelson’s tour bus wheeled into the performance area just off the city’s Celebrate Virginia center.
Soon enough, Nelson popped out of his bus and headed straight for Light, who with his wife had brought not just one but two wooden hats.
“I held up the hat for him and his eyes were as big as the moon,” said Light, who met Nelson decades ago at one of the singer’s famous birthday party concerts in Austin, Texas.
Light noted that his daughter-in-law had made macrame hat bands of red, white and blue to match the well-known and well-worn guitar strap Nelson favors.
“He noticed those and really seemed excited about the hats,” Light said.
One hat, of red oak, fit Nelson. Light hopes Nelson will display the second hat, a slightly smaller one of regular oak, or give it to someone with a slightly smaller head.
Light said he loves Nelson’s music and would have been happy to spend a long time talking to the country singer, but he knew other fans were waiting for a chance.
He’s grateful, he said, to Central Virginia Live! official David Peterson and others who helped him pass along the hats he crafted for Nelson.
The other big plus on the special night?
“Getting to sit out there and hear him perform,” said Light, an artist as well as a woodworker.
“I don’t know that there’s anybody better than Willie connecting with an audience.”