Best Church Street performer 2013 | Michael "Tree" Sampson (Didgeridoo Guy) | Culture

Best Church Street performer

Michael "Tree" Sampson (Didgeridoo Guy)

Inside Chittenden County

Michael Sampson (digeridoo guy)

Balance Guy

The sound is guttural and rhythmic and comes from an unusual source: Michael “Tree” Sampson. The Church Street performer makes a living playing the didgeridoo behind a distinctive antlered mask. The wind instrument dates back 1500 years to Australian aboriginals, and sounds almost like the grumbling of a hungry stomach. Sampson manipulates delicate string puppets while blasting his unique, hip-swinging compositions.

Given Sampson’s nomadic state as a street artist, Seven Days couldn’t track him down before deadline. A 2012 “Music Al Fresco” segment from National Public Radio provided the answer to our inquiry about the origins of his mask.

MICHAEL “TREE” SAMPSON: It’s an ash tree that I got in Maine. I cut the tap root and flipped it around and retained the roots to use as antlers and sheared the other roots for ears. It’s supposed to be a deer, but all of a sudden it worked its way back into this kind of owl-human, just nature-spirit thing. With the didg and its sound, it just increases the effect on the people. You try to be, like, a kind of magician almost.

—Meredith White

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