The Slow Ponies
Shannon Applegate has had a love of singing since childhood when she wrote little poems she put to music, banged out on her grandmother's upright piano. As a teenager she sang in high school musicals and was in a coffee house duet in the Washington D.C. Area, singing folk songs. After moving to Oregon in her twenties, she sang and wrote songs with her cousin Susan Applegate for a band called “AppleBottom Blues.” Apple Bottom was the affectionate name for the Old Applegate House in Yoncalla (still the setting for many musical events.) Today's Slow Ponies fiddler, Linda Danielson, occasionally played with Applebottom Blues. While taking care of her “Aunt” Hazel Peret, a former trick-shooter, and listening to her favorite western music, Shannon developed a taste for old cowboy songs.Shannon also sang with Susan's sister, Marie Applegate Helmer (a former Pony) over the decades. In the late 70's, she met fella Pony, Esther Stutzman. They were thrilled to learn that in addition to many other mutual connections, they shared a love of singing. One of the original Slow Ponies, in the mid 2000's Shannon began writing songs again. She sings the quaretet's lower harmonies and also serves as the band's mistress of ceremonies, providing historical quips. She hopes to “ride on” until her nineties.
Esther Stutzman began singing on stage at the tender age of 4. She went on to sing with several local folk groups in the '60s and eventually teamed up with the rest of the members of The Slow Ponies in the '90s. She is a Kalapuya Elder enrolled with The Confederated Tribes of Siletz and is a founding member of the Northwest Indian Storytellers Association. She shares her traditional stories with schools and library programs and is a frequent cultural resource lecturer at various universities. In 2017, Esther was awarded a Governor's Arts Award for her Lifetime Achievement in traditional storytelling and her work in Indian Education and Arts in Education programs.
Besides playing backup fiddle for the Slow Ponies, Linda Danielson fiddles for contra dances and English/Scottish country dances. She performs Celtic and Scandinavian music in a duo with harper Janet Naylor, and plays a country-toward-bluegrass repertory with The Annie Rhodes Band. Though not much given to playing in contests, Linda and Oregon State Champion Carol Ann Wheeler once held the Oregon State Twin-Fiddling championship. She teaches fiddle privately and in workshop settings. Linda has for many years performed a holiday program of Celtic music and story with Chico Schwall and David Stuart Bull. One of her favorite musical adventures involved passing a fiddle back and forth, trading tunes with a Maya priest in a little village in the Yucatan.
Growing up in Arlington, VA, Liz longed for a pony and the cowboy life portrayed in the Western movies and songs. Her bedside radio brought the golden age of Country Western and buegrass music to her ears and honed her musical tastes. Five years of piano lessons gave her a background so later in life she could take up the instruments she loved- fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass.
In 1976 Liz moved to Oregon and finally got her pony-- many in fact. She raised Welsh ponies and the Icelandics for over 26 years.
Liz has been playing in Roseburg area bands since 1994-- first with the folk group Eridot and the Girls Can Jam Bluegrass Band. Currently she's happy to be part of the Umpqua Valley Bluegrass Band, Shasta Ray & The Downhome Band, and of course, the Slow Ponies
Susan Applegate was born and raised on a ranch in Yoncalla Oregon. As a young adult, she studied fine art at the University of Oregon where she also became an art educator. She lived most of her young adult life in Eugene, Oregon where her son attended first grade through his high school years. Susan moved back to her ranch in Yoncalla. There she paints in her studio and has exhibited her work throughout Oregon. She is active in the cultural life of Yoncalla, primarily through Applegate House Heritage Arts and Education. Her love of the outdoors and the Oregon landscape motivates her involvement in environmental conservation. Being a member of the Slow Ponies is a big part of Susan's rich creative life.
Melissa Ruth was born and raised in rural British Columbia on a balanced diet of borscht and Bob Dylan. She earned a degree in classical flute performance and then turned her focus to teaching. She has taught music in Douglas County public schools for the past 15 years.
In addition to her career in education, Ruth has written and recorded three full length albums of original music. When she's not playing guitar and singing harmonies with the Slow Ponies, Ruth and her husband (and long-time collaborator) Johnny Leal, tour throughout the country as an electric Doo-Wop Twang duo.
Stacey hails from rural western Pennsylvania and grew up with the sounds of bluegrass harmonies in her ear. She earned a degree in Voice Performance and Music Education from Ithaca College and has taught in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, where she lives with her three children. Stacey is honored to be a part of this incredible group of women who have opened her eyes to a rich collection of historic music. She plays the guitar and sings high harmonies for the Slow Ponies.