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Friends in Music, Demi Fernandez, Nibs van der Spuy and Neil Gonsalves

The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music proudly presents Friends in Music at Centre for Jazz and Popular Music on Wednesday 08 March 2023 at 17:30.

Three legends of Durban’s music fraternity collaborate to celebrate a 30+ year friendship in music. Their inaugural performances took place in December 2022 with sold out shows at The KZN Arts Gallery.
Demi Fernandez, Nibs van der Spuy and Neil Gonsalves first crossed paths in Durban’s music scene in the early 90’s. Demi had recently taken up a teaching position in the Technikon Natal Light Music program and Nibs was one of his first students. Neil was a student in the jazz program at the University of Natal at the time and both he and Nibs count Demi’s dazzling virtuoso performance at a Guitars for Africa concert at the Playhouse as a lasting impression and inspiration. A few years later, Neil would join Demi on the music faculty at the Tech and he would inherit the Music History module that Nibs previously taught. Nibs was heading out on the road at the time with his band, Landscape Prayers and a few years later Nibs’ rhythm section of Logan Byrne and Bruce Baker would make their foray into jazz in Neil’s band, Tonk. These interweaving and overlapping trajectories in their respective musical journeys continue to this day, and the three friends meet at least once a year, most often over Nibs’ delicious chicken braai and Portuguese vino for a festive catchup.

Demi Fernandez was born in Brazil of Spanish parents who moved to South Africa. After matriculating in Pretoria, Demi spent many years living, studying and performing in Flamenco Tablaos in Spain. Upon his return to South Africa he performed extensively for all the Spanish dance companies in South Africa including the Danza Lorca Dance Company with whom he also toured Austria and Greece. He completed a Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music at Pretoria Technikon and an Honours degree in Music at UCT. He continues to perform with the Linda Vargas Dance Company and can be heard in duo with Neil Gonsalves on their 2013 release, Latinfluence. 

Nibs van der Spuy is one of the most extraordinary and exciting world acoustic guitarists to come out of South Africa. Raised in the fertile province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Nibs immersed himself in his natural environment to formulate a truly consummate and original sound. Growing up with the Beatles and learning first hand from traditional Zulu Maskandi guitarists, he quickly soaked up a rich eclectic tapestry of his surroundings and beyond. Nibs’ following grew and culminated in him being the supporting act for Crosby, Stills and Nash on their 1996 South African tour. He was soon signed to the SHEER (South African World Music) label where he released over 10 albums. Nibs released his first solo album in seven years, MAIDEN OF THE RIVER in May 2022. The new material was written along the Lisbon Coast during the global lockdowns and conveys a deep message of hope, deliverance and healing in a world off balance.

Composer/pianist, Neil Gonsalves completed a Masters degree in Jazz Performance cum laude at the University of Natal in 1999. He recorded a debut CD with his band Tonk in 2000 and North Facing in 2006 which was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has worked with many of South Africa’s most well-known and respected jazz musicians as well as relatively long tenures with Busi Mhlongo and Johnny Clegg with whom he toured from 2000-2004. He is the Director of the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN and released two recordings during lockdown, Blessings and Blues and a solo piano album called Concert for One.

You can expect to hear music from their respective catalogs, including music from Nibs’ new release, Maiden of the River, Demi and Neil’s Latinfluence duo record, Neil’s Blessings and Blues trio record and reworked seasonal music for some much-needed cheer. CDs will be on sale on the night.

Gig Listing

Friends in Music

Wednesday, 8 March 2023 at 17:30

UKZN, Centre for Jazz and Popular Music

University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Howard College Campus, Dennis Shepstone Building, level 2

Doors open: 17:00, Show starts: 17:30

Tickets: R100, pensioner tickets are R70, and student tickets are R40.


Mar 08 2023


5:30 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Mar 08 2023
  • Time: 10:30 am