I once saw Raul Reynoso try to give a friend the shirt off his back. Really. Raul collects Tommy Bahama shirts (as I do), and a friend was admiring the one he wore that day. "I'll tell you what," he said, unbuttoning the shirt, "I've got another shirt in my bag." He had it all the way off and in his hand, saying "Here you go," before the guy finally declined. Anyone who knows him might be amused, but not surprised.
Raul and I have been friends for more than thirty years, and though we've never lived closer than 500 miles apart, we've seldom been out of touch for very long. Nowadays we get the chance to play together about three times a year, more if I'm lucky. Whenever the opportunity comes up, I'll cancel or reschedule just about anything to make it happen. Of all the musicians I know, his playing inspires me the most.
He's seen me through peaks and valleys: patiently playing with me as I recovered from a hand injury and could barely play, encouraging me when I've doubted that my chops were up to the task, and also pushing me on when I've been at my best, making me better by trying to play up to his level.
Raul's Royal Street is my all-time favorite CD. Recorded in 1997, it has never relinquished the first slot in my car's CD changer. And his three CDs with New West showcase another side of his tasteful mastery of the acoustic guitar.