In country music, a “writers round” involves a few singer-songwriters sitting together with their guitars. One by one, they tell the audience the stories behind their songs and play them. It’s a beloved Nashville tradition — but also a bit risky for artists. Because when you’re in that intimate atmosphere, you might accidentally say something revealing to a room full of strangers.
“That happens all the time,” said Kip Moore, who will perform an acoustic concert with fellow country singers Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen at the Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday for a limited-run tour called “Tall Tales & the Truth.”
“It’s weird — I’m very private in my real life. But when I’m onstage, I’m an open book. . . . I find myself telling stories that I’ve never told before when I’m doing these kind of things.”
An acoustic, writers-round-style show was what Moore, Rogers and Bowen envisioned when they came up with the idea for a brief tour in December, the only time when all three had time in their schedules. (Along with Washington, they’ll play in New York, Denver and Lincoln, Neb.) It’s a good excuse to travel and play music with friends, and a chance to show off their writing chops with just a song and guitar.
“I feel like if you’re truly a singer-songwriter, and the three of us all are, this is what you live for. You live for breaking the song down to where there’s no glitz and glamour,” said Moore, who released his third album, “Slowheart,” this fall. “I enjoy the full-band thing, but there’s nothing more fun to me than a quiet theater and playing singer-songwriter material.”
Well, ideally there’s a quiet theater. But you never really know what’s going to happen at acoustic country concerts. They can turn into a literal dialogue between the singers and audience, especially when the crowd starts yelling song requests.
For Bowen, that’s the best part, because he purposefully doesn’t make a set list when he plays writers rounds. He develops one on the spot based on the banter and how the singers play off one another.
“So much of it is about the feel of the moment and the crowd,” he said. “When you have two other guys onstage, in this example, you might want to play off their stories. Anything they say can spark a reason I might want to play a certain song, and it’s impossible to predict that.”
Bowen is certain that he, Moore and Rogers “will make fun of each other lot” — an easy task, considering they all bonded this year after Moore played Bowen’s charity event in Waco, Tex. Plus, Bowen and Rogers have been friends for years on the Texas country circuit, and they frequently team up for acoustic concerts. In 2015, they collaborated on a duet album, “Hold My Beer, Vol. 1,” and, a year later, released “Watch This,” a live album from their tour.
Rogers also enjoys the loose quality of writers rounds. In one round, everyone might sing a cover song; in the next, the artists might play a track from their first record. Sometimes he and Bowen entertain the audience with a “worst song competition,” which is exactly what it sounds like.
It’s also a good way, Rogers said, to shed light behind the scenes of the country music business.
“On certain songs I’ve written, sometimes, people don’t know my co-writer has also written huge songs that have been played on the radio a million times,” he said. “It’s really fun telling that backstory.”
Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. 202-888-0050. thelincolndc.com.
Show: Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.