Montrealers rally behind the Spoonman

Hundreds of people are rallying against a new law that bans spoon-playing on a downtown street.

Hundreds of people are rallying behind a 52-year-old busker in Montreal who faces the loss of his livelihood under a new law banning spoon-playing on a downtown street.

The ordinance, which comes into effect Jan. 1, was sparked by noise complaints about Cyrille the Spoonman, who clicks his cutlery to entertain passers-by on St. Catherine Street outside the upscale Ogilvy's department store.

In the past few days, about 350 people have signed Cyrille Esteve's petition against the law, apparently sparked by a complaint from managers at Ogilvy's who said it interfered with the Christmas music they wanted to play.

"I'm surprised to see that I'm so loved by Montrealers," Esteve told CBC News.

Some critics say the store over-reacted to a purveyor of a traditional form of Quebec entertainment.

"I thought it's crazy that Ogilvy's fought," one man said. "I don't think it's that loud."

A Catholic priest handed Ogilvy's staff a letter on Saturday, saying the 600 families in his parish may boycott the store if it doesn't soften its approach.

"Forget about it and get this man back on the street because it's really stupid," said Rev. Victorio Tucci of the Congregation Ville Émard.

Ogilvy's managers say they've had dozens of complaints from employees and customers who object to Esteve's sounds.

"The city has bylaw of noise pollution, and this guy is a noise pollution," said one customer, Theo David. "He's not music, he's 'ding-a-ding.''"

The bylaw's validity is also being questioned. It outlaws spoon-playing or clicking cutlery, but continues to allow castanets and the triangle. (All three forms of entertainment were given specific city approval in 2000, when a bylaw banning percussionists on city streets was amended.)

Esteve is the sole musician who plays the spoons on the street, and Quebec courts have already struck down a bylaw that targets only one person.

The Spoonman has a backup plan if the law comes into effect.

"I'm fighting for traditions, my life, my job," he said. "I'll sing, and then make so much noise singing, they'll beg me to return to the spoons."