The Moreland Sessions, Episode 3: Rowena Wise @ Bee Sustainable



Bee Sustainable
500 Lygon Street
Brunswick East VIC 3056

Rowena Wise

Directed and filmed by
Agostino Soldati

Recorded, mixed,
and mastered by
Julian Abrahams

Rowena is an old mate of mine. Family friends, we grew up at the same folk festivals and events although the Wise Family Band were originally based in Margaret River, WA, and I was based here in Brunswick.

Rowie has been performing since she could stand. In around 2012 she moved to Melbourne and joined a folk outfit which I founded, called the Stray Hens. Rowena won an award from Folk Alliance Australia for her own songs in around 2014, and it was a bittersweet day for the Hens when Rowena decided to focus on her solo career. Now developing her own brand and playing electric guitar, she is a talented writer and multi-instrumentalist. We haven’t seen much of each other since, so playing together for The Moreland Sessions is a treat for us both.

We meet at Bee Sustainable, run by Robert Redpath and a small team. It’s still hot at 5pm, the heat of the day releasing the heady scents of the candles and beeswax products on the shelves. Filming was tight, and Agostino had to allow for the changing light of the setting sun which creeps down as we begin the shoot. The shop has a wonderful feeling of happy productivity and it’s very clean, feeling like a cross between a gift shop, a wholefoods store, and an industrial supplies shop. People come here with a purpose, and Rob is at the centre of it. He and other specialists offer fascinating short courses in cheese-making, bee husbandry, honey, and sustainability. You can even fill your own honey jars there, without the need to buy plastic.

With the instruments out, the space begins to feel like a farmhouse kitchen and the honey in the air mixes with the receding afternoon sunlight to create a magic moment.

Rowena’s Song
‘Counting Coulds’
Counting Coulds is fragile and beautiful, immediately offering itself for a band arrangement. I can’t wait to hear how it comes out on the next album with the band.

It fit beautifully as a duet, nestled amongst the candles, tangled up in leads and equipment and so intimately sung on acoustic guitar with harmony. It’s reflective but wise, and we are all a tingle before the last song has even begun.

Cover Song
‘I Think I Always Thought (I’d Fall In Love With You)’
by Brendan Welch

Rowena chose a cracker of a song to cover, a rich ground for harmonies. This is the first I’ve heard of Brendan Welch. He’s recorded this song a couple of different ways, and it’s worth checking out the Parlour concert version on YouTube, as well as the album version. It was also covered by Jordie Lane on his Not Built To Last EP. I’m a new convert, for sure, and Rowie and I are grinning by the second verse.

Mandy’s Song
‘The Red Shoes’
Every guest of The Moreland Sessions brings a different treat, and Rowie is no exception – adding a fiddle to the mix. It’s been a long time since we played together like this. The Red Shoes is from my first album. The tune is cyclicle and old-timey, and amongst hand-made beeswax candles and self-serve honey reservoirs it feels joyful and rootsy.