Susan Dietrich Schneider. (Contributed photo.)

Susan Dietrich Schneider. (Contributed photo.)

‘Space Lady’ comes to the San Juans to perform

  • Mon Jan 6th, 2020 2:33pm
  • Life

Last year, Susan Dietrich Schneider, internationally known as The Space Lady, played the Dome at Alchemy Art Center on San Juan Island. Whether folks already knew of her 20-year musical career or were simply curious about someone with a name like The Space Lady, community response on the night of the show was overwhelming. As more and more attendees arrived for what would surely be a unique performance, members of Alchemy Art Center had to create extra parking by mowing more areas around the driveway! In the end, all who arrived were accommodated and The Space Lady lived up to her reputation.

In January, she returns for two more shows. The first show will be Saturday, Jan.11, 7 p.m., at the Odd Fellows Hall on Orcas; the second show is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Alchemy Art Center on San Juan.

Schneider’s unconventional career began in the 1970s when she and her first husband Joel decided to live off-grid in order to dodge the draft. They were both artists, and Schneider sold her drawings, collages, poetry booklets and various novelties on the street to eke out a small income. In 1980, desperate to support their growing family, she adapted popular songs on an old beat-up accordion for street performances. A few years later, she upgraded to the newly released Casiotone MT-40 and began singing through a mic and delay pedal, wearing her now-iconic winged helmet. The Space Lady was born, and Schneider became an iconic figure of the San Francisco streets, performing there for nearly two decades.

In 2000, she quit music abruptly to move back to her birth state of Colorado and take care of her aging parents — but the growth of the internet gave her new fame through videos taken of her street performances. Now, she was becoming not just a local legend, but a global icon as well. She was convinced to re-enter the world of performance, and in 2014 Schneider was recording new music and touring the world, playing to international audiences who resonated with her gentle soprano voice and ethereal arrangements.

“At the Alchemy Art Center show last July, Schneider lived up to her legacy,” said organizers. “Her performance was truly magical in the dome-shaped space, and her banter was charming and engaging. Her versions of ‘Strawberry Fields,’ ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky,’ and ‘I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night’ brought an otherworldly quality to the beloved songs.”