A major milestone for Drum Up JB!


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.


Drum Up JB! the first permanent
cultural attraction in Johor Baru

The success of the first Drum Up JB! shows presented at the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House in January 2023 has encouraged the organisers to continue with staging two shows per month in February, March and April.


The constructive comments and feedback received after each month’s shows helped the organisers to fine-tune and improve the show programme, to ensure that the audience will get the best experience from the next shows.


Promotional material for Drum Up JB! shows posted on social media garnered positive response and when the promo team interviewed members of the audience after each show, they were able to record spontaneous comments on video.


Check out the list of dates!

It was interesting to discover that many admitted that they did not know that the art of the 24 Festive Drums had its origins in Johor.


A compilation of these video clips posted on social media featured feedback comments from the audience that comprised locals as well as people from Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, India, France, Spain, Singapore, the UK and the USA.


With many three-generation families in the audience, united by their passion for a common subject – drumming – who enjoyed together and were able to discuss after the show, Drum Up JB! is clearly a family-friendly show.


From the many positive comments received from the audience, Tan Chai Puan, co-founder of the art of the 24 Festive Drums, was pleased with the positive impact of the monthly Drums shows since the inaugural show in January.


Capturing a we-fie with co-founder
of the 24 Festive Drums, Tan Chai Puan

When I was preparing the Contents for Book Three of My Johor Stories, I was pleased to include the art of the 24 Festive Drums among the brands that were proudly established here and later exported abroad.


Working with Tan, I wrote a comprehensive story of the 24 Festive Drums, and featured it in, My Johor Stories 3: Proudly Johor, Then and Now.


Prior to this, I had also documented the story of Tan Chai Puan as an exclusive piece under Portraits in my 2017 MPH Non-Fiction Bestseller, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.


Book Three of My Johor Stories was launched in December 2022 and by then, all the MPH bookstores in Johor Baru had closed so readers should buy my books online through mphonline.


With Dato Steve Chong
and his family

Mindful of the fact that many readers preferred to buy books from a physical store, I had arranged with MPH Kuala Lumpur to keep a stock of books here.


And when the Drum Up JB! shows kicked off in January, I had the privilege to partner with the Drum shows by opening a pop-up store at the lobby the Opera House.


During the Drum shows, the MC will make announcements to alert fans of the 24 Festive Drums that the story of the 24 Festive Drums was duly documented in My Johor Stories [in English!] and that they should go to my pop-up store to get their own copies and have them autographed by the author.


Tan was more than pleased that the art of the 24 Festive Drums have been exported abroad and by now, more than 400 drum troops have been established worldwide, with the most recent established in Africa and a Northern snow city in China.


With Tengku Nora and her
own trilogy of My Johor Stories

He was proud that Drum Up JB! has entered into a strategic partnership with R&F Princess Cove for the second launch of the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House this year and have created a cultural phenomenon here.


On April 14, I was among the media invited to a Press Conference with the organisers who were ready to make an important announcement about the Drum Up JB! shows.


On arrival, I read the poster on the event backdrop which announced, Drum Up JB! JB’s First Permanent Cultural Attraction.


The organisers shared encouraging information that included data and statistics garnered from their experience in the shows staged in the past three months.


With young Kimberley, an avid reader

The use of an online ticketing system made the Drum shows accessible to a wider audience nationwide and we learnt that the audience for the shows from January to March was close to full house, which included 40% of non-Chinese.


The enthusiastic support of the audience, which contributed to the success of the Drum shows in the first quarter of this year, has determined the continuation of Drum Up JB! as a regular and permanent show in the city.


The dates for the next Drum shows are scheduled on one Saturday per month from May to December for the audience to plan their trips to Johor and enjoy a live show at the Opera House. [Please see event poster for the dates!]


Now visitors to Johor may include the exciting Drum Up JB! in their itinerary when they visited JB over the weekend of the show dates.


With Jamie Lau, a friend at
Ponderosa Golf & Country Club

In addition, Drum Up JB! has also partnered with hotels and resorts here with Stay & Show packages where guests will benefit from the transport provided to and from the Opera House to enjoy the Drum shows in a fuss-free experience.


After the past few years of uncertainties, the community is seeking to reconnect again and cultivate relationships with family and friends through the appreciation for the Arts.


So, it was good to see how Drum Up JB! has encouraged Arts enthusiasts to cultivate a culture where we pay to enjoy quality shows in our city because such support will motivate the artistes to develop their art and grow from strength to strength.


When I met Tan at the lobby of the Opera House for the Drum show on the evening of April 29, he paused to capture a we-fie with me and told me he planned to write a piece about My Johor Stories…


With Alvin Th'ng, visiting from Singapore
and who caught the Drum show 
as well as got My Johor Stories books

Among the excited people in the lobby before the show started, were groups of students from the Austin Heights International School with teachers and staff.


I also spotted Dato Steve Chong, Chairman and founder of the Austin Heights Group of Companies, who was with his family.


Later, I was introduced to young Abbie, grand-daughter of Dato Steve Chong and this doting grandfather let me autograph my books for her, her grandfather and her sister, Ellie.


When Tengku Nora came to my book-sale table, she wanted all three My Johor Stories books even without flipping through its pages.


As I added my autograph to her collection of the trilogy of My Johor Stories, Nora explained that she was familiar with my stories since the days when I contributed to the newspapers.


While some people were browsing through my books, I heard the announcement that the show was about to start. So, I urged them to go in to enjoy the Drum show and get ready to be wowed by this dramatic art of drumming that was born in Johor.


I also assured them that I would still be there so they could come back during the Intermission or later, to get my books which featured the interesting stories of Art of the 24 Festive Drums and its co-founder, Tan Chai Puan.


And they did just that.


I was very encouraged to hear from the parents of young Kimberley that their daughter was an avid reader. And when I was about to autograph the books for her, she helped to spell out her name.


Patiently waiting at the end of the queue, was my friend and former co-worker in the Children’s Ministry, Alvin Th’ng, who is now based across the Causeway for work but was back in JB for the long weekend.


That very morning, when he learnt that the Drum show was scheduled that evening, he did not hesitate to go online to book his seat for the 8pm show, with a plan to spring a surprise on me because he was keen to get autographed copies of Book Two and Three of My Johor Stories for someone in Singapore.


Samuel Wee with his
trilogy of My Johor Stories

Then on Monday when Samuel Wee received Book Two and Three from Alvin, he sent his appreciation along with this encouraging message:


“I just received volumes Two and Three of your Johor Stories and thank you very much for signing them.


I enjoyed volume One and found it very engaging because of the numerous personal connections you make to the larger heritage and history of Johor state.


I still teach Malayan history in school so your anecdotes and insights come in useful indeed.”


This message just made my day.


I am aware that My Johor Stories books are in the Singapore National Library and also in the Sultan Ismail Library in JB but there is indeed something special about having your very own autographed copies.


As Drum Up JB! has a list of show dates in the coming months, readers may also visit my pop-up store set up at the lobby of the Opera House – once a month – for their autographed copies of My Johor Stories.


For your own experience of the dramatic drumming in the art of the 24 Festive Drums, catch the next Drum Up JB! shows scheduled at 2pm and 8pm staged on Saturday, May 20.


Tickets are now available from https://www.cloudjoi.com/buy/mic1ja


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.

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