Horse power: Country band Horse Eyed Men tells stories at Union Pool

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All Eyes on the band!

A band of brothers will bring a countrified cabaret of songs about queer cowboys, bedroom fires, and electoral politics to Williamsburg’s Union Pool on May 2. The simple acoustic guitar, bass, and drums of the Horse-Eyed Men will give Brooklynites a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life for a night, said the group’s guitarist.

“It’s nice to play wooden instruments in a concrete context,” said Noah Harley, a former Red Hooker. “So much of what’s going on in the city feels like screaming into a hurricane.”

Horse-Eyed Men, a Providence band that consists of Noah and his little brother, drummer Dylan Harley, along with bassist Ken Woodward, will open for folk star Willy Mason, and then back up his later set.

The guitar-playing brother said he is excited to play the band’s artisanal brand of country and Americana at the beloved watering hole.

“We’re trying to make hand-made music,” said Harley. “I feel like a lot of the music today, you can’t really tell what instruments are being played.”

The brothers are influenced by cabaret, and the show alternates between songs, back-stories, and banter. Their brotherly relationship makes the chatty back-and-forth come naturally, said Harley.

“There’s a weird, synergetic, freaky sibling thing going on,” he said. “The cabaret element is Dylan and mine’s relationsh­ip.”

The music also alternates between humorous and serious topics. The tune “Come On Cowboy,” for instance, spoofs the machismo of contemporary country music by telling the story of two cowboys hooking up in a bar.

“If the boot fits, wear it, don’t ask why,” the song goes. “Come on, cowboy — let’s take a ride.”

More serious songs discuss the election of Donald Trump and political kidnappings in Bolivia, where Harley has worked. The song “The Hired Hand” describes a love letter a woman wrote to her disappeared husband in Bolivia in the ’80s, and Harley explains the story before launching into the tune.

“We build up the myth of the song a bit,” said Harley.

Country music may seem like an odd fit for the hip Williamsburg bar, but the band likes playing at Union Pool because of its old school qualities, said Harley.

“It has a cabaret quality and a little bit of a speakeasy vibe,” he said.

The Horse-Eyed Men with Willy Mason at Union Pool (484 Union Ave. at Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 609–0484, May 2 at 8 pm. $15 ($12 in advance).

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 5:45 pm, July 9, 2018
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