Russ and Eli

Eli Maniscalco is a sophomore at New York University majoring in Music Composition. Eli can be heard on this recording on double bass, but he plays several other instruments, his main instrument being piano. An award-winning solo performer, Eli is also a talented songwriter. He has been acknowledged for his instrumental compositions, most recently his piece for string quartet, “Indispensable Interruptions.”

Russ Dembin is a first-year student at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Russ will be double majoring performance in Theatre Arts with Adolescent Education-English. A lover of comedic, folk, older rock music, as well as various other styles, Russ enjoys composing parodies in addition to writing his own comic songs. Russ is an award-winning actor and is known for his impressions and talent as a dialectician; he plays guitar and banjo and dabbles in other stringed instruments as well.

Russ & Eli, as a duo performing comic and American folk music, have been appearing together since playing their arrangement of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” in a talent show at their high school in 2003. The two had been friends and had a mutual enjoyment of music and comedy, but this was the official beginning of Russ & Eli. Both musicians are alumni of the Sanford H. Calhoun High School On Tour Company, a unique and selective four-year program that trains its students in theatre arts with the intensity of some universities. Because of their background in this program, many of Russ & Eli’s songs are about Calhoun High School, theatre in general, and their repertoire often has an educational theme; “The Snell’s Law Song” fits in quite well with the rest of Russ & Eli’s songs. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the On Tour Company, Russ & Eli wrote and performed two parodies at the annual Thespian Induction and Awards Dinner. It was from this performance that “What Do We Do When It’s 7:30?” a parody of “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?” became popular within the On Tour program.

Russ Dembin (left) on guitar & Eli Maniscalco on double bass (click to enlarge)

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