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  • From the 1920s through World War II, The National Barn Dance unified rural Americans.

    From the 1920s through World War II, The National Barn Dance unified rural Americans.

    http://cdn.itvs.org/hayloft_gang-01.jpgmp4:hayloft_gang-trailer-1024.mov
  • Enter the video contest and earn a chance to earn great prizes, including tickets to a taping of Austin City Limits.

    Enter the video contest and earn a chance to earn great prizes, including tickets to a taping of Austin City Limits.

    http://cdn.itvs.org/hayloft_gang-contest.jpgmp4:hayloft_gang-contest-1024.mov
  • Kentucky fiddler Lily May Ledford became a radio star when she appeared on the National Barn Dance.

    Kentucky fiddler Lily May Ledford became a radio star when she appeared on the National Barn Dance.

    http://cdn.itvs.org/hayloft_gang-extra.jpgmp4:hayloft_gang-extra-1024.mov
  • The "Kentuckians" at a road show, 1936

    The "Kentuckians" at a road show, 1936

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  • Bob Atcher at a personal appearance

    Bob Atcher at a personal appearance

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  • Patsy Montana signing autographs

    Patsy Montana signing autographs

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  • The Prairie Ramblers and Patsy Montana

    The Prairie Ramblers and Patsy Montana

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  • Patsy Montana

    Patsy Montana

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  • The Prairie Ramblers

    The Prairie Ramblers

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  • National Barn Dance cast, circa 1936

    National Barn Dance cast, circa 1936

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The Film

Narrated by Garrison Keillor, The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance tells the story of a changing America through the lens of one of the nation's most popular country music radio shows during the 1930s and 40s: the National Barn Dance.

Broadcast every Saturday night on WLS-AM out of Chicago, the variety show unified rural Americans with its nostalgic brand of traditional folk music and country humor, and helped define an identity for a struggling generation. From its first broadcast in 1924 to its last in 1960, the National Barn Dance served as a touchstone for rural citizens unsure of the future, or homesick transplants confronting the city.

In finding and serving this newfound audience, the National Barn Dance was a marketing pioneer, making millions for sponsors like Alka Seltzer. Moreover, it launched national superstars such as Gene Autry, Patsy Montana, Bradley Kincaid, Andy Williams, George Gobel, Pat Buttram, and Lulu Belle & Scotty.

The Hayloft Gang weaves rare performance footage, home movies, and candid photographs with first-hand accounts from fans and performers. In addition, interviews with historians, folklorists, and media experts reveal historical and cultural perspectives on the story.

The Filmmakers

  1. Stephen ParryProducer/Director
  2. Bob HerculesProducer