cover of book

The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance
edited by Chad Berry
University of Illinois Press, 2007
Cloth: 978-0-252-03353-7 | Paper: 978-0-252-07557-5
Library of Congress Classification ML3524.H39 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 781.6420977311


The National Barn Dance was the nation's most popular country music radio show during the 1930s and 1940s, essentially defining country and western entertainment until it was supplanted by the Grand Ole Opry and rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. Broadcast for more than three decades from Chicago on WLS's powerful 50,000-watt signal, the show reached listeners throughout the Midwest, the East Coast, and large regions of the South, delivering popular entertainment to rural and urban areas and celebrating the folk traditions that were fading in an increasingly urbanized America.

Drawing on the colorful commentary of performers and former listeners, these essays analyze the National Barn Dance and its audience, trace the history of barn dance radio, explore the paradox of country music in a major urban center, investigate notions of authenticity in the presentation of country music and entertainment, and delve into other provocative issues raised by the barn dance phenomenon.

Contributors are Chad Berry, Michael T. Bertrand, Lisa Krissoff Boehm, Don Cusic, Wayne W. Daniel, Loyal Jones, Kristine M. McCusker, Stephen Parry, Susan Smulyan, Paul L. Tyler, and Michael Ann Williams.

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