Goodbye, Eli Reyes

Fresno’s music scene was shaken this weekend as we learned of the passing of Eli Reyes.

I sadly had not seen Eli in some time. But I saw a lot of him when he was actively drumming for (what seemed like) every band in Fresno and when he would return from L.A., sometimes just to fill in for somebody’s band.

I want to be able to say things about Eli that would live up to my thoughts. It’s difficult. I’m not up to the task.

But I want to make sure to say that he was a wonderful man that was a joy to be around. Loved making music. He was one of the few Fresno musicians that could get me out of the house on a weeknight to see a show.

I miss the sweaty post-show bear hugs.

With that, really, I’d rather read what others have to say about Eli. So I pulled some things I found from the Fresno music community. Hope everyone is cool with it.

Rest easy, Eli, you were always so kind and so upbeat. I was always happy to see you setup a drum kit and then have multiple bands that you were apart of change out through the night. The ever so famous “Eli Fest” within FUSE will always hold a special place in Fresno music history.

Matt Nap

Sad to hear the news that my old friend Eli Reyes has passed away 🙁 He was such a kind soul… the kind of fellow you’d always love to bump into while you were out.

Paul Chesterson

“This really hurts. I want to say that Fresno lost a treasure, but we all know that Eli was so much more than that.

I challenge you to name a musician that crossed every stage in Fresno off his list whether it was CYC, Fulton 55, and tons more that probably don’t even exist anymore. Eli was the guy you could catch at an acoustic show and hang out with afterwards to talk about punk and hardcore.

When I was younger, I was in awe of Eli and I was very fortunate to have become friends with him over the years. He, like myself, would show up to shows by himself sometimes and we would hang out and catch up on whatever was going on in our lives.

I was always so excited when I would book one of his projects. I remember a few times, whether it was a Fay Wrays set with Touche Amore at CYC or at Catacomb Party, where I put someone else in charge and said “Keep an eye on things because I gotta see this.”What I would do to say that one more time.”

-John Esquivel

“I met Eli about 20 years ago and have been his friend and bandmate ever since. There were times when Eli was really easy to love. There were times when he was difficult to love but you loved him all the same because of who he was: a kind, loving, caring, and fiercely loyal friend.

He tattooed the Albert Camus quote: “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” That quote captures what it was like to be Eli’s friend. And Eli and I walked beside one another through a lot of life moments. He will be dearly missed. He is still dearly loved.

Eli played in countless bands (this is no hyperbole) in Fresno, all over the Central Valley of California, and Los Angeles, and really anywhere he could pummel a drum set. There will certainly be a lot of reminiscing of Eli playing music and those memories are wonderful and good, but they only scratch the surface of who he really was. Because at the end of the day people create music and Eli loved music because Eli loved people.

This is my friend Eli and I will miss him very much.”

-Benji McEntee

There was no one like Eli. Pure joy and positive energy. He was a driving force of the independent music community. An awesome drummer undoubtedly but most memorable to me is how Eli would selflessly go out his way to help others and advocate for the band and people he loved. His enthusiasm was infectious and he made you want to be a better person.

Warren Woodward

“Eli loved music more than anyone else I know. He was everybody’s drummer. My favorite memories of him are when we played in the Jumpbacks with Jacquie, and recording the last Soma Holidays record. He didn’t argue. He was kind. He was not prideful, even when he had every right to be.

When I picture him now, he’s frozen in time. Mid 20’s. Knee-length black jacket, black car. Beautiful white DW drumset, that was always in his backseat because he was always on his way to or from band practice or a show. Chain smoking Marlboro lights. Insisting that no one goes home. He wanted every night to last forever.

The last thing I said to him before the coma was “We will jam again someday”. I still believe that’s true.”

-Luke Deniston

“A guy who was a fixture in the scene for a real long time and someone I’ve know from a long time back. Lots of people felt what he was about. RIP.”

-Josh Tehee

“Gutted right now. LA’s music scene lost a tremendous performer and we’ve all lost a dear dear friend. Eli was the first to offer a helping hand and had an infectious positivity about the world. He worked his butt off and always did so with that huge smile. I’m going to miss you Eli. RIP”

-Ashley Wagner

“Eli Reyes was a fierce drummer and a good friend. We spent long hours at Livingstone’s musing over murder ballads and Nick Cave, rejoicing over each other and music we loved. He was the first person I ever met who fiercely celebrated the mere fact that his friends existed. He loved with everything he could give and it was always a gift to witness.

…every time he joined me on stage throughout the years I was always reminded about how important the heart of the drummer is to the drums themselves. He would take to them like Animal and it was the most glorious expression of self that I’ve seen nearly anyone commit to. He taught me the importance of getting every ounce of tone out of your kit and I selected every drummer I have ever worked with Eli as one of the blueprints.”

-Kat Jones

There are a lot more stories about Eli. Sorry if your thoughts are not here, this are just some I found and thought were relevant.

Although Eli was in a lot of bands, I would say all of them good to one degree or another, the first band I think of when thinking of Eli is The Fay Wrays:

I was lucky enough to ‘tape’ a lot of shows and bands Eli was a part of. Here is one from Love Pollution:

Eli with Rademacher:

The Fay Wrays:

The Quiet Americans:

The Soma Holidays:

With P.A. Harper:

I guess all we can do now is enjoy our memories of Eli and some of the music he was a part of.

The Fay Wrays.
Rademacher.
The Quiet Americans.
The Pretty Flowers.

If you have any thoughts or stories about Eli, please feel free to leave them in the comment section of this Fresno!Fresno! post – the comment section on this blog is sadly very limited.

Thank you, Eli, for everything.

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Author: The Fresnan

Hey, Mikey Seay here. Local nerd. Longtime blogger and podcaster. I love talking local, Star Wars, beer and other junk. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat: @thefresnan CHEERS!

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