Guest Room Sessions: Vanessa Peters, ‘Carnival Barker’
Texas singer-songwriter Vanessa Peters brings her song "Carnival Barker" to April's installment of The Boot's Guest Room Sessions. Press play above to hear the pensive, sharply political track, featuring special guest Federico Ciancabilla, a Rome-based guitarist who plays with Peters when she's over in Europe.
Filmed in Rome, Italy, this performance of "Carnival Barker" was recorded on set shortly after Peters finished filming the song's official music video. "I wanted to do an acoustic version of this song because I wrote it as a stripped-down, punchy sort of song," she tells The Boot.
"Since I tour often as a solo or duo act, I thought it'd be nice to have a 'live acoustic' version that represented how the song could work in either arrangement," Peters adds. "Plus, an acoustic version allowed the weight of the lyrics to come through, which is really what this song hinges on."
Peters pulls no punches in her criticism of current U.S. president Donald Trump in "Carnival Barker," which wields the imagery of the brash, vulgar hucksters that inspired its title like a knife. Beyond that, the song is also a meditation on the anxiety that surrounds the constant uncertainty of the current political climate, the feelings of "How did we get here?" and "What are we going to do next?"
"They put our country up for sale with a flag and called it truth / Now I lie awake at night wondering what we'll do," Peters sings. "There is this carnival barker we were all warned about / They told us to steer clear of him when he came to our town / You'll get a circus, history told us, if you vote for a clown."
"Carnival Barker" appears on Peters' most recent album, Foxhole Prayers, released in October. She's an artist who's somehow managed to fly under the radar, but has released 11 albums and played more than 1,000 shows all over the globe. A striking songwriter and compelling vocalist, Peters fits in nicely on playlists alongside Aimee Mann, Brandi Carlile and Neko Case.
Fans can catch Peters out on the road in support of Foxhole Prayers in May, when she'll perform near her home base of Dallas, Texas, at the Wildflower Festival. In June, she'll head to Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia for a series of shows.