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Pianist Jigger Pine organizes a quintet consisting of drummer Peppi, clarinet player Nickie Haroyan, bass player Pete Bassett and trumpeter Leo Powell, which is dedicated to playing jazz and blues. Together with Leo's wife Character, a singer, the group plays throughout the South, hitchhiking and hopping trains to get around. Along the way, Character becomes pregnant, but refuses to tell Leo because she is afraid that he will leave her. One day, a man named Del Davis rides in the same railroad car and steals the band's meager funds. When they do not turn him in to the authorities, Davis, an escaped convict, offers to give them a job at the New Jersey roadhouse that he owns. Also at the roadhouse are Davis' former accomplices, Sam Paryas, crippled Brad Ames and sultry Kay Grant. The three are not happy to see Davis, whom they set up to take the blame for their crimes. Working well together, the band soon draws a lively crowd to the roadhouse. Hoping to make Davis jealous, Kay flirts with Leo, and Jigger begs her not to break up the band. Kay ignores Jigger, but when Leo learns he is to be a father, he happily devotes himself to Character. Kay then transfers her attentions to Jigger, who tries to resist her, but when a doctor tells Character that she must stop singing until after the baby is born, Jigger suggests that Kay take her place. Despite the protests of the band, Jigger works hard to improve Kay's singing. When she finally rebels, Jigger tells her that he loves her. Brad overhears and advises Jigger to keep away from Kay, adding that his own love for Kay resulted in the accident that crippled him. When Kay tries to win Davis back by revealing Sam's plan to turn him in to the police, he kills Sam and orders Kay to leave. Despite his loyalty to the band, Jigger takes a job playing piano for a more traditional band and leaves with Kay. Jigger longs to return, but when he begs Kay to come with him, she laughs at him, saying that she has always been in love with Davis. The rejected Jigger goes on a drunken binge and is eventually found by his friends, who bring him back to the roadhouse to recover. Shortly afterward, Kay also returns to beg Davis to take her back. When he refuses, Kay angrily threatens to turn him in, forcing Davis to pull a gun on her. Jigger rushes to Kay's defense, and in the struggle, Davis drops the gun, which Kay then uses to kill him. Jigger is about to leave with Kay, but the band members intercede, telling him that the stress of the last separation caused Character to lose her baby. Not wanting Jigger to ruin his life, Brad drives Kay over a cliff, killing them both. Together again, the band goes back on the road.