Rowena Wise

We hosted a Parlour show at our North Carlton terrace on a Wednesday evening. People began to arrive from 7pm, and mercifully the unpredictable Melbourne weather stayed fine. While people arrived and filtered through to the back yard, several friends helped hand around the snacks. Carrie and I made bruschetta with tomatoes from the garden, as well as some pizzas.  We had invited friends from different parts of our lives, and it was such a nice thing to see everyone come together and mingle beneath the enormous fig tree. My mum brought chips and a guitar lead for Rowena to use for the evening. The dog went happily from group to group collecting pats.

The sun had just dropped behind the top of the terrace, and the dark was falling as Rowena Wise began to sing. The lanterns around the stage cast a warm glow on the faces of the people arranged around the garden. Rowena seemed relaxed; her between song banter was open and warm. There was none of the separation between artist and crowd you sometimes experience at venues; she was standing on a stage made from an old palate, while we sat around her on wooden benches, milk crates, the garden wall. Rowena comes from a family of musicians in WA and played on hand-crafted instruments made by her dad.  Her voice was clear and beautiful, perfectly complemented by the fig foliage and the floating candles hanging in jars from the tree. Her songs, played on both guitar and ukulele, were lyrical and expressive. My favourite of the evening was Hollow Hearts (I can’t stop listening to it!).

After her set, most people stayed around for a drink and a chat. I found Rowena in the kitchen, thanked her for such a great show and bought a copy of her Woodford EP. This is one of the things I like most about Parlour, how it brings artist and audience together: by the end of the evening it sort of feels as though you’ve just had a mate round to play a few tunes, even if you’ve never met them before.

It was such a lovely experience opening our home up to friends and their friends and some strangers even. It was great to hear some beautiful music in an intimate setting, and let’s face it; any opportunity I get to decorate the garden with tea light candles is going to make me pretty happy. As everyone was leaving and saying their goodbyes, my heart was anything but hollow.

Review by our host, Else Fitzgerald.

Photography by Elliot Ryan.

Video by Glenn Luck.