The month end of January will see jazz lovers enjoying good music at the Jazz Exchange in Gaborone at the President Hotel, where Sereetsi & the Natives will be the main act.
Sereetsi and the Natives group is made up of guitarist and soloist-cum-author, Tomeletso Sereetsi and his band mates.
Sereetsi describes the band as “a refreshing definitive reference in the contemporisation of folk music in Botswana and a unique voice in the World Music arena. The act presents a fearless new sound that is as forward looking as is rooted in the indigenous musical traditions of Botswana,” he said.
Though it plays Western idioms like funk, walking jazzy lines and Latin rhythms, their main staple is the Botswana four string folk guitar and the many traditional rhythms of Botswana.
That the act has perfected blending disparate global influences into this high energy folk guitar style is as exciting for the ordinary Botswana native as it is for the foreign legion of World Music lovers.
Sereetsi & the Natives has emerged as the saviour of this oral guitar tradition, thanks also in part to the release of Sereetsi’s widely acclaimed first ever instructional book/CD in Botswana in 2013 titled The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana.
The 83 page book resulted from a research of the Botswana folk guitar's tuning, chords, song form, origin and development. The country’s Ministry of Education has since hailed the book as a high quality educational resource, and plans are at an advanced stage to roll it out in schools across the country.
Sereetsi & the Natives has emerged as an important curator and purveyor of the guitar tradition through performances, workshops and being an invaluable source for journalists interested in indigenous Botswana music.
The band employs master storytelling and poetic lyricism to offer commentary on light and dark themes such as love, conflict, pain, joy and hope. For instance, Ha Ke A Bowa is a song about a man returning from prison to find a society that still sees him as an unforgivable criminal while Robert is about a family that upholds traditional values being confronted with the reality of homosexuality.
Sereetsi & the Natives performs both in a band format and solo. The act’s debut album, Four String Confessions, is scheduled for a March 2015 release