The quick take on Richard B. "Casper" Rawls is the line about "a guitar players' guitarist." True as it may be, he's more accurately a musician who demurs such lofty notions with a friendly smile and lets his fingers and guitars speak for his talents. Which is why he has earned the admiration of guitarists who indeed know guitar playing at its finest such as James Burton and Buck Owens. And why in and around Austin, Texas as well as around the globe, discerning fans and listeners, roots music aficionados and fellow musicians know him as a player of impeccable taste, stylish and smart economy, and ultimately — thanks to those aforementioned qualities — wonderful power and beauty.
That's because Rawls is a guitarist who plays the songs and the music and not just the guitar. He did so for 25 years with Austin's legendary LeRoi Brothers along with 11 years backing singer Toni Price as well as performing, recording and touring with a host of notable artists and acts within the internationally celebrated Austin scene. And he does so with a personal modesty and almost charismatic friendliness that has made him beloved by his fellow musicians and the music fans who know and enjoy his playing.
"Casper is a great guitar player and one of my favorite people," says Burton. "He's also become like family to me."
Grammy winner Dave Alvin feels similarly about Rawls as a player and a person. "For many years Casper Rawls has been one of my favorite guitarists and people. Picking up where country/rock visionaries like James Burton and Clarence White left off, Casper can bend, twist and coax some powerful, abstract soulful beauty out of a six-string guitar. Hell, he could probably do the same thing with a one-string guitar. If I practiced 12 hours a day for the rest of my life I'd still not be in his league. He's true guitar hero who plays with intelligence as well as passion. And also a really, really good guy."
The sirens' call of the twang guitar that is one Rawls musical t