The Bull and the Bear started as the brainchild of Ryan Stotland (guitar, harmonica) and Kyle Thompson-Westra (guitar, vocals, clarinet), who met studying economics at Tufts University and soon realized they shared a passion for music. In college they would play together regularly performing covers of their favorite artists, including Neil Young and Bob Dylan. It was only a matter of time before they began marrying Keynesian theory to folk sensibility.
In the spring of 2008 when the two graduated, the global financial system was shaking. That summer, Ryan began work as a financial research analyst in Montreal while Kyle traveled through China, observing firsthand its economic rise. They shared what they were seeing and traded lyrics back and forth online. This became the song Central Banker’s Dilemma, pioneering the genre of financial folk. The song was featured on NPR’s Planet Money, which spurred Kyle and Ryan on to create an entire album focused on the financial crisis and the impending Great Recession. They spent the next two years in various separate countries trading song snippets and living the global economic shocks.
When they were ready to record, they contacted Adam Stotland (no relation, they claim), who runs a studio (Stotland Yard) in Ryan’s hometown of Montreal, and he was immediately excited about the project. Aside from being the sound engineer for the album, Adam became a major part of the band, singing on roughly half the songs and playing mandolin and guitar on a number of tracks. They managed to snag Sarah Shapiro (vocals), a student of international relations and law, whose great voice and sensitive sound became an essential part of the group. The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle was Jonathan Moorman, one of the most talented fiddle players in the Montreal music scene, whose musical prowess ties the entire album together.
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