Longtime denizens of the Castro or Haight may recall a kooky busker with a winged metal viking helmet who played a little Casio keyboard and sang ethereal, psychedelic versions of pop songs. Well, The Space Lady, as she became known, lives in Colorado now, and she's swinging through town to perform this weekend and everyone should go see her.
The Space Lady seems to having a moment. A friend of mine in Oakland just introduced me to her Greatest Hits album on Spotify a week ago and all of a sudden she's on tour and SF Weekly is doing a profile on her. Let's just chalk it up as inevitable that an outsider musician with a funny hat playing some charmingly weird, 1970s and 80s-inspired tunes (and covers of songs like Peter Schilling's "Major Tom" and Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild") was bound to get rediscovered by Millennials on the internet.
As the event organizers tell us, Susan Dietrich Schneider got her start as a busker on the streets of Boston in the 1970s, and as the Weekly explains after speaking with her, Schneider later moved to San Francisco with her "conscientious-objector first husband" and had kids. She spent days playing music on the streets or in BART stations, making about $40 a day, she says, and helping to feed her family over the course of 16 years (1984-2000).
She had retired her Space Lady helmet after marrying a second husband and relocating to Colorado, but she says he wondered why she would get fan mail from around the globe, and eventually encouraged her to start playing music again. She released her "Greatest Hits" album in 2013, started a Facebook page under the name "@sanfranciscobusker," and now she's been touring, performing everywhere from Sweden to Sao Paolo. In January she even opened for the Sun Ra Arkestra up in Seattle.
As the Weekly aptly puts it, "She and her slightly sorrowful voice stand apart from the culture of memes and Instagram feeds."
In other words, she will soothe your soul with her oddness.
The Space Lady performs Friday, March 22, at 8 p.m. at The Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa Street. Find tickets here.