The spirit of Bob Marley is still alive in the hills outside Waterbury, but the organization that oversees the mountain bike trail network at Perry Hill is singing a different tune.
The Waterbury Area Trails Alliance has changed the name of its classic centerpiece trail “Rastaman,” which took its name from one Marley tune to another classic Marley title, “Small Axe.”
Kenzie Fuqua, a member of the trail organization’s board of directors, said the decision came after working over the past year with the Waterbury Area Anti-Racism Coalition.
“We live in Vermont, and we’re mostly white and don’t really have that representation of the Rastafari people, so we thought it was better for us to not try and appropriate something like that, even though the original intent wasn’t necessarily about appropriation,” Fuqua said.
The lyrics of “Small Axe” talk about the titular axe chopping down the big tree that represents “evil men” who are “working iniquity to achieve vanity.”
Jamaican music has long been part of the soundtrack to the Waterbury-area mountain biking scene, from the vibes at Irie Cycles, one of the area’s pioneering mountain bike shops in the late ‘90s, to the tunes playing as those pioneers built the early trails that became the foundation for today’s well-organized trail networks. There’s another one called Burning Spear, and there may be others not on the official trail maps.
“The original trail builders were just jamming to reggae music the whole time they were building trails,” Fuqua said. “We want to keep that feel with the name of our trails and honoring the history of the amazing trails that they built with a little bit better intent.”
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