Come celebrate with Drum Up JB


Following the success of the Drum Up Johor Baru shows staged on January 7 & 8, two more exciting shows will be presented on the evening of Saturday, February 25 and the morning of Sunday, February 26 at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House.


The two Tans, Tan Chai Puan [Left] and the 
late Tan Hooi Song, co-founders of the
art of the 24 Festive Drums in Johor Baru

Drum Up JB, a collaboration between JB Drums and R&F Princess Cove showcases the art of the 24 Festive Drums in a 90-minute programme that features creative performances by the artistes in JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre.


This Drum Shows certainly lived up to its promise of a spectacular show and I echo the comments of many in the audience who were impressed by the performances, in particular the Drunken Drummers by JB Drums and Memories, a collaboration between JB Drums and Orang Orang Drum Theatre.


In the past few years, I have worked with Tan Chai Puan, co-founder of the art of the 24 Festive Drums, to publish many stories on this dramatic art of drumming showcased in a number of exciting events including their bi-annual International Drum Festivals and the 30th anniversary celebration since its founding in Johor Baru in 1988.


An old Chinese newspaper report
that featured the late Tan Hooi Song

Tan, who is bi-lingual in Chinese and English, helped to fill me in with the many details of each event to share about such exciting events in English so that those who do not read Chinese, were able to understand and share the pride about this proudly Johor-born art of drumming that has impressed audiences all over the world.


[The Chinese community here often shared about their culture-heritage events in the Chinese media but very little was ever published in other languages.


With the help of Tan, I was able to fill this void by sharing news about Johor Chinese culture and heritage in English so that (even!) the Chinese who don’t read Chinese, were able to discover more about their culture and heritage when it was (finally!) written in English.


My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People,
Rich Heritage
, displayed in the 
Museum of the 24 Festive Drums

Tan was aware that news about the 24 Festive Drums should to be published in English because this art of drumming had already been exported abroad to Non-Chinese-Speaking nations and it was important that the drumming community worldwide could read about drumming events in a universal language like English.]


In fact, I had the privilege to share the story of Tan Chai Puan as co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums, documented in my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


Presenting Book Three to 
Mrs Tan Hooi Song and Guang Mei

When the Museum of the 24 Festive Drums was declared opened on 1 January 2020, I was pleasantly surprised to see copies of my book, opened to the page on Tan, displayed among the precious artifacts.


It was also at this event when I was introduced to Tan Guang Mei, daughter of the other co-founder of the 24 Festive Drums, and her mother, Mrs Tan Hooi Song.


While I know about them and saw Guang Mei and her brother (from a distance!) when they presented a music performance at the national-level celebration for the 30th anniversary of the founding of the 24 Festive Drums, I did not have the pleasure of being introduced to them until 1 January 2020.


Meanwhile in 2019, while I was preparing the manuscript for Book Three of My Johor Stories, I decided to include the story of the 24 Festive Drums, documented among brands that were proudly born in Johor and have since been exported abroad.


Mrs Tan, untying the ribbon on her copy of
My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now

Published in English, I was keen to share the proud heritage of the 24 Festive Drums with drum enthusiasts and readers, all over the world.


At the book launch of My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now in December 2022, I had the pleasure to present this book that contains the story of the 24 Festive Drums, to Tan Chai Puan.


I also had a copy of this book ready to present to Guang Mei and her mother but they were unable to attend my event as their music school, South Front Art & Music House, had organised a concert on that very same day.


While I was sad that they could not join me at my book launch, I asked Guang Mei to arrange a date for me to meet with her and her mother to present Book Three to them.


On the evening of January 25 when Guang Mei was at the lobby of the opera house for the Drum Up JB show, I failed to recognize her because I only met her briefly at the Museum’s opening on 1 January 2020.


“I’m Guang Mei,” she reminded me with a sweet smile and I could not help feeling a pang of embarrassment, mortified for failing to recognize her.


Once again, I reminded her that I wished to present Book Three to her mother and asked her for a date to meet up with them.


Poster for Drum Up JB shows
planned for February 2023

This year’s Chinese New Year season was a busy time for all who enjoyed reunions and festivities after the past few years of toned-down activities.


And it was already February 2023 when I received a message from Guang Mei about our meet-up and we agreed for a date and time to meet at South Front.


I was delighted with this arrangement as it was never too late to present my book to them.


When she received Book Three, Mrs Tan agreed with me that it was important to document the story of the 24 Festive Drums for future generations to appreciate the legacy of the two Mr Tans who worked hard to develop this art of dramatic drumming that continues to thrill and entertain audiences, not just locally but also abroad.


It was significant to me that Guang Mei and her family received the due acknowledgement for the contributions by her late father, Tan Hooi Song, who lost the battle to cancer and did not witness the many new developments of this art of drumming that he and his co-founder created together.


[Later, when I looked at our photos together, I was delighted to see that a portrait of the late Tan Hooi Song was also captured in the shot because my story of the 24 Festive Drums is also a tribute to his life’s work.]


A humble beginning at the Johor Old Temple

While the art of the 24 Festive Drums had its humble beginnings in Johor Baru with an event held in the Johor Old Temple in 1998, the two Mr Tans should be so proud that this art of drumming has developed discipline among drummers and continues to be taken to new heights of creativity in each performance.


As the Drum Up JB show was proudly presented at our city’s foremost opera house, I see it as a top tribute to the two Mr Tans who founded this art of drumming with much respect for the passion and commitment of talented and well-trained drummers who take pride in promoting this performing art to audiences both here and abroad.


The JB Drums troop proudly performing at
the 2023 Johor Chingay celebration

On the evening of February 11, when our city came to a standstill for the grand celebration of the Johor Chingay, the JB Drums troop was proud to perform their dramatic art of drumming for the public and dignitaries including His Highness the Johor Sultan, in front of the main stage set up at Jalan Wong Ah Fook.


This was just a glimpse of what audiences can expect to be thrilled with at the exciting Drum Up JB shows staged over the weekend of February 25 & 26 at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House.


Do get your tickets for the two shows scheduled on Saturday, February 25 at 8pm and on Sunday, February 26 at 11am.


Tickets priced at RM85, RM105 and RM150 only are available now from


Drum Up JB is an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Culture and Heritage, a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru, R&F Princess Cove and Malaysia Digital Districts.


P.S. It is my privilege to complement the Drum Up JB shows with a Sale of My Johor Stories books, in particular My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now, which documents the story of the 24 Festive Drums, that will complete the trilogy of My Johor Stories.

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