About the Project

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.

We believe that it takes an unusually creative and unique approach to make a difference. A portion of sales will be used to support the Somerville Homeless Coalition, which provides crucial services to individuals and families in Greater Boston.

7 Responses to About the Project

  1. Scammaj says:

    And here I thought I was the only econ major who loves folk music. Yay Dylan! Boo Keynes. You guys need to add some Austrians to your reading list.

  2. Jonathan TE says:

    As an English major undergrad turned Econ grad student (spent 5 years in that particular purgatory; been out for several years now), I can’t help but love this stuff. I heard you on The Story radio program and really enjoyed the interview. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of folk music in general, but your stuff sounds good to my ears. But I also really like what you’ve done because, back in the day, I fiddled a bit with writing some poems that all used imagery derived from econ terms and themes. The one that I remember best (alas, lost through the years of moving from one computer to another) was called “Sunk Cost,” and expressed the sentiment of unrequited love. The scenario was my breakup with a girlfriend, and in the poem I saw myself as being the sunk cost that she had decided to walk away from. (I’ve since recovered from that particular negative shock.) Well, keep it up. There are so many phrases in econ that, like sunk cost, have great potential for literary and poetic treatment, but literary and poetic people are usually econ-phobic and so unlikely to notice. The pressure is now on you two to keep up the good work!

    Oh, and by the way, up with Keynes! Austrians, schmaustrians. ;)

    • Jonathan TE says:

      PS: for example, “The Double Coincidence of Wants.” Has there ever been a better title-in-waiting for a love song?

  3. Jonathan,
    Thanks for your really thoughtful comment. I think you put your finger on one of the things we really tried to accomplish which was to marry poetry and art with something considered cold like economics. But you’re right there is just so much good material that people don’t see or don’t know about.
    Like your two examples of a sunk cost and double coincidence of wants – both awesome.
    Thanks for listening in and its great to hear that you share our quite odd interest in art and economics!

  4. Andy says:

    Just bought your album based solely on the cover art at the Salvation Army in Middletown, NY and I was pleasantly surprised. Will you be doing anything besides economy-based folk? I mean, I basically grew up in the recession (21 now, so 17 in ’08), but I barely graduated high school so terms like “Illiquid” and “Stagflation” (steadily rising?) don’t mean too much to me.

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