The Bidwells perform in Laxson Auditorium for virtual audience


Jason Halley

Ben Ruttenburg and Samantha Francis were inspired to name their band The Bidwells in honor of spending much time creating music in Bidwell Park.

Ben Ruttenburg and Samantha Francis, members of the musical duo The Bidwells, performed Friday night inside Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium for a virtual audience. The performance was intimate despite the physical distance between the artists and their viewers.

Chico Performances offered the presentation through their online box office. The presentation started with the couple introducing themselves and expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to perform for an audience. 

The duo met while playing on a cover band together where they discovered their similarities in music taste among other things. Ruttenburg and Francis began to collaborate and become partners in music and eventually partners in life. 

Virtual musical performances are far from ideal for artists like The Bidwells but the two seem to be keeping a positive attitude toward this new reality. 

While comparing live performances and virtual ones, Francis mentioned, “We definitely still got that sort of reciprocation and appreciation but it did happen a little differently.”

The two took to the stage of Laxson Auditorium with grace and obvious admiration toward each other and the music that they create together. 

The Bidwells opened their show with the intro of their newest album “Anywhere You Take Me.” The song was a melodic love song titled “Able” where the two exchange lyrics about being more than capable of loving one another. The song was a great example of the acoustic folk sound that The Bidwells have. 

The seats of Laxson Hall may have been empty during The Bidwells performance but an array of lights shine down on them.
The seats of Laxson Hall may have been empty during The Bidwells performance but an array of lights shine down on them.

Ruttenburg went on to introduce a song he was inspired to write following an instance in his life where he found himself missing his partner the second she walked out the door. The song is titled “Thought You’d Like To Know” and can also be found on their album. 

The stage in Laxson Auditorium was lit up with warm lighting and soft purple lights bordering it. The show offered an intimate performance of the duo’s collection of upbeat folky music. 

Francis and Ruttenburg, who have clearly been inspired by the city of Chico, have done their part in contributing to the community with their talents and  being a beacon of hope in these trying times for artists. 

Ruttenburg offered a few words of wisdom to artists who are perhaps struggling during these times, “Just bring yourself to do it with the instrument in your hand, sit down at the piano, get the guitar in your lap, and just crank something out whether it sounds good or not just kind of do it every day. And I think that you’ll see results from that.”

As an alternative to live performances, The Bidwells recently started offering singing telegrams. The idea of the telegrams is to spread joy and love to those that may not be able to see their friends or family because of COVID- 19. 

“We can still bring that kind of joy that comes from hearing a song that means something special to you and that somebody you love sent you something that would bring a smile to your face.”

The duo closed out the evening with their song called “Hold Every Little Part” which eloquently wrapped up their Friday evening performance. Information about The Bidwells’ upcoming events, access to their debut album and information about their telegrams can be found on their website. CSU Chico Performance’s website is also a tool you can use to stay informed about upcoming local events.

Sophia Pearson can be reached at [email protected] or @sophia__pearson on Twitter.