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In rural Texas, teenager Ernest Tubb and his friends, brothers Leon and Jimmie Short and Jack T. Drake, are forced to practice their country-western songs in barns because none of their parents approve of their musical ambitions. Ernest's father Hiram is especially resentful of Ernest's singing and guitar playing, as it distracts him from his farm work. One day, Hiram explodes at Ernest for neglecting his duties and smashes his guitar. Ernest's sympathetic mother offers to buy him a new guitar with money earned from her turkeys, and after working hard to fatten up the birds, Ernest has a brand new instrument. Soon, however, the boys find themselves without any rehearsal space, as Hiram has instructed the other parents to make their barns off limits. Determined to continue, Ernest suggests they practice in the local church, and for several years, the band, now boasting six members, happily rehearses there. When the boys accidentally burn the place down, however, a guilt-ridden Ernest decides to take the group on the road until it earns enough money to rebuild the church. Although Hiram denounces Ernest's plan to his face, he later instructs Ma to give him the money he has been saving to buy a tractor and say it is from her. At the end of their first day on the road, the boys eat a big meal at a roadside restaurant, then tell the annoyed owner that they have no money, but will "sing for their supper." After their well-received performance, the musicians go to sleep in a nearby barn. The next morning, they are surprised to find Francis D. "Carty" Cartwright, who was at the restaurant the previous evening, also in the barn. The fast-talking Carty offers to be the band's manager, and soon "Ernest Tubb and His Texas Troubadours" begin a successful tour around the West. Eventually, however, the musicians discover that Carty, a compulsive gambler, has lost all of their earnings in a poker game. Carty then causes the band's car to break down and reluctantly takes the boys to his sister-in-law's house, where his daughter Helen lives. After Ernest hears the attractive Helen sing, he suggests that she join the tour, and the next day, Helen and her cousin, the plump Esmeralda Perkins, leave home with Carty and the group. Impressed by the band's performances, theater booker Pete Dixon offers to set up an audition for them for the Hollywood Barn Dance radio show. On their way to California, the group stops in Las Vegas, where Carty soon gambles away their earnings. When the band is locked out of their hotel room for nonpayment, Carty uses his last dollar to place a roulette bet and wins a large sum of money. With his winnings, the group continues to Los Angeles, and their audition is a huge success. When he is offered a spot on the program, however, Ernest announces that he and the boys must honor their promise and return to Texas to rebuild the church. Not wanting to lose his "discovery," Pete suggests that he and Carty wire a barn in Ernest's home town so that the band can broadcast from there. Carty despairs of carrying out the expensive plan until a former business partner named Toppit, who has been pursuing him all during the tour, finally catches him and reveals that he and Carty have been offered $20,000 for the rights to a play they once produced. With his $10,000, Carty converts a barn in Texas into a radio station, and Ernest and his band, as well as Helen and Esmeralda, start to broadcast their first show together. During the broadcast, Ernest presents Hiram with a tractor, and father and son finally reconcile. Then, as the broadcast ends, Carty announces that Ernest and Helen are going to marry, as are Esmeralda and band member "Red" Herron.