For seven seasons, the mix of a cool, calm, easy-on-the-eye Stoan Seate (who took over from Pepsi Pokane) and good South African live music, has been the winning formula for SABC2’s Afro Café.
Things are about to change as the party moves from the Tuesday 10pm slot to Fridays at 9.30pm, but don’t pop the champagne yet because the risks are huge.
The music show will compete with Live on SABC1 and Seate will have to give pretty boy Sizwe Dhlomo a run for his money. However, creative director Letitia Masina is not concerned.
“The only similarity is that both shows focus on music. Afro Café is live to tape and the genres of music are different. Now and then the genres overlap, but we focus on live music and I don’t feel that we’ll be in competition with each other. All artists on the show perform with a live band,” says Masina.
The show was rated number one on the SABC2 Tuesday night line-up. It will now follow the legendary Johan Stemmet and Noot vir Noot in its new time slot.
Explains Masina: “We have a winning formula and we heeded our viewers’ requests to change it to a Friday night. They can stay up to watch the show since most people don’t work on a Saturday.”
If the Afro Café line-up over the next few months is anything to go by, the producers are not holding back.
“We have various ways of choosing who comes on to the show. We listen to the voice of our viewers. Some up-and-coming artists contact us and we research who is making an impact on the music scene and go from there,” they say.
They’ve clearly done their research in that regard. The man of the moment, Zakes Bantwini, along with the equally talented DJ Black Coffee, will kickstart the new time slot on Friday.
South African Music Award winner Judith Sephuma, will contend with the likes of a video from Khanyi Mbau on the youth channel – someone unlikely to even be nominated for the award.
Acts such as Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Ringo Madlingozi and Mbongeni Ngema are also set to perform over the coming weeks, proving that the show has established its pulling power.
However, the lines do get blurred when it comes to artists such as Theo Kgosinkwe, who can cross over into any market, young or old, as can be seen in the case of Afro-pop pair Malaika.
Whether or not HHP, Slikour or Khuli Chana would get a warm reception at Afro Café remains to be seen.
Despite Masina’s confidence, there is no doubt that the two shows will be compared. Afro Café has thrown down the gauntlet with its first episode, while Live’s cult status will be a thorn in their flesh.
Let’s not forget that Live has three pretty faces in the form of Dhlomo, Bonang Matheba and Minenhle Dlamini.
Nokuthula Msimang, commissioning editor for SABC2, concedes that viewers may switch between the channels, but says the shows target two very different audiences.
Whatever happens, it’s comforting to know that local music has at least two decent platforms on which to showcase itself.