The mysterious case of the missing fedora

Joshua Abeyta, of Los Mocochetes, wants whomever stole his hat to return it.
5 min. read
The missing hat of Los Mocochetes member Joshua Abeyta.
Courtesy: Josh Abeyta

Joshua Abeyta's missing beaded, brown fedora wasn't just any old hat.

"It's an extension of my spirit," Los Mocochetes' lead singer, guitarist and trumpeter told Denverite. "When I put it on, it's like I'm putting on ... a force field."

But it was taken from him after a gig. Now, he wants it back.

The hat's been around almost as long as the band.

Not long after the Chicano rock band formed in 2016, Denver musician Larry Nix invited Los Mocochetes to play the now-shuttered Goorin Brothers Hats, where the country singer worked. The shop couldn't pay the musicians, so it offered each a $100 credit.

"We're a brand new band trying to make our way out there, and we're like, 'Hell yeah, that sounds tight,'" Abeyta recalled. "So when we played the shop, we all got cool hats."

He often wore the fedora playing with Los Mocochetes and teaching classes at the music-education nonprofit Youth on Record.

"I would dress up for class and come in with my hair braided, my nice bolo on, and my nice hat," he said. "It traveled the world with me."

Joshua Abeyta wears the fedora that has disappeared.
Courtesy: Josh Abeyta

Over the years, the hat took beatings and recovered every time.

At one point, a family dog chewed up the brim.

"I took some tin snips, and I made this mountain-looking pattern, but it also looks like fangs," he said. "At first I was like, 'Oh man, it's ruined,' but I was able to save it, you know?"

When Los Mocochetes performs, Abeyta throws himself into every song. He dances with the crowd, sweat pouring. That took a toll on the fedora.

"The band on the hat started to get a little jacked up just from sweating and wear-and-tear and all that," he said.

Los Mocochetes' Diego Florez eats a taco at a party at the Globeville Recreation Center to get people interested in planting trees in the neighborhood. Feb. 25, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

His bandmate Diego Florez's auntie, Peggy Florez-Welch, is an artist who creates beaded jewelry rooted in Southwestern Indigenous designs. She grew close to her nephew's bandmates, and they all adopted her as their own auntie.

She had made a few beaded bracelets from Abeyta. After she started beading hat bands, she suggested she create one for his beaten-down fedora. Together they dreamed up the design, and she spent over 40 hours on the project.

"When you're beading, it's a prayer," Abeyta said. "She's in prayer, praying for whoever is going to take that piece of jewelry. That's where it really becomes even more than just a hat. My auntie's prayers are going into all that time."

On the last Saturday in May, the very special hat disappeared.

Los Mocochetes played Raices Brewing Company that night.

"We had a real good crowd," he recalled. "We had people dancing, had a full dance floor. We were having a good time."

Los Mocochetes passed out tambourines and shakers to the crowd. The musicians led a conga line.

The final number was an up-tempo rendition of "Huaraches," the group's tribute to sandals. Abeyta often takes off his sandals and juggles them. At the end of the show this night, as his bandmate Jozer Guerrero rapped, Abeyta threw his hat into the air, spun it on his finger, and the fedora flew into the crowd.

Los Mocochetes play the Little Saigon Night Market. Federal Boulevard, June 21, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

"I get off stage," he remembered. "One person stops me to buy a T-shirt. So I just do that real quick. And as I'm moving toward finding the hat, I keep moving. I keep walking. I don't see it. I can't find it. And I'm like, 'What the hell?' I knew it landed right here."

He asked if anybody had seen his hat, and Guerrero's fiancé said a woman had picked it up.

"I was like, 'What did she look like?'" he recalled. "And she was like, 'She was white. She had blondish-brownish hair.' And it was gone."

He reached out to the brewery owners to review security footage. Her face was not discernable.

"They saw her pick it up," he recalled. "They saw her holding it. And she didn't leave with any sense of urgency."

Did she steal the hat? Or left thinking it was a souvenir?

"Someone's not just gonna walk into Raices," Abeyta said. "It's like they're coming in there for the show. You didn't come with that in your hand. Why are you gonna leave with that in your hand?"

Abeyta and the band started posting about the lost hat on social media. They even offered a cash reward.

Word spread, and so far, he's had two leads.

A Thursday-night regular at Thirsty's Sports Bar in Thornton got word of the missing hat. He said he had seen a woman that met the person's description wearing the fedora at the bar. The stranger pledged to try and retrieve it.

Another person contacted Abeyta on Nextdoor with an image of a woman in a fedora stealing a stone penguin from a yard and asked if it was the same hat.

"That was a similar shape," he said. "But it definitely wasn't it."

Abeyta has no desire to press charges. If the person who took it wants to return it, he suggested she take it to Raices Brewery or connect with Los Mocochetes online.

"Be kind to your neighbor," Abeyta said. "Don't take s*** that don't belong to you."

And if the old hat's gone, well, it's gone.

"I feel like there's always these lessons in non-attachment," Abeyta said. "And that's kind of the theme: You have to say goodbye to everything at some point."

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