Those last days before rock ’n’ roll took off were a blessed moment for folk music in Canada. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were in the ascent south of the border, and at home the circuit was small but super-vibrant. The Riverboat was where the biggest names tended to play. Juno saw Oscar Brand there, who had a show on TV and kind of ruled the roost at that time. The Ian of Ian & Sylvia turned out to be the very same guy who’d written Four Strong Winds. And she finally caught up with The Travellers back in Vancouver. There were five of them and four of them sang, which made their sound almost choirlike. Their topics weren’t choir boys’ stuff, though. Their big encore was a song called This Land Is Your Land. The sincere young man next to Juno that night told his weird clueless neighbour who kept on making bizarre movements with his hands like he was flinging back hair where there plainly was none that the words had been written to an old melody by a guy called Woody Guthrie and were originally about the States, but later adapted for Canada by The Travelers.
But Juno liked some of the lesser-known acts just the same or more. She fancied she could tell whether someone was any good, not because she knew the first thing about music, but by the hairs on the back of her neck and the strength of that feeling. And Juno wouldn’t be Juno if she hadn’t found an additional way of amusing herself besides just listening to the performers. For extra fun she would test them. She’d send little spells their way, for them to play a bum note or forget the lyrics or feel an overwhelming need to cough. She always started them off real weak, by closing her eyes and turning away and barely thinking the words, and gradually stepped it up. Only those who caused the most intense manifestation of the feeling in Juno were momentarily immune to her maximum-strength itch-in-the-groin spell. She usually treated them to an appearance by the real fake Juno after their set, to see them handle that. In Toronto there was a singer called David Wiffen who hit on her a whole hour one time in a totally non-steamrollered, casual way, like Juno’d seen him do with lots of other girls. It would’ve helped that he’d had a few drinks.
For once Juno actually genuinely enjoyed herself that night. Although she knew damn well that none of these musicians could do real Magic, and although she often felt jealous of the way they were free to display their talents so openly and be respected and admired for them, they were still the closest thing she had to Magic companions. Real Magic folk on the other hand didn’t seem to dig folk music at all.