Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Locomotion: Singapore's Best Pop Music Ride

The boys in the original line-up (above in 2005) consisted of Jerry Murad, Bert Choo, Kelly Tan, Tony Goh, Band Manager, Francis Leong, Hansolo and lady singer cum guitarist, Vivian Bacinillo.

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I have always been mesmerized by the red jackets this band wears (image) so when I found out 70's recording artiste Irene Yap has a brother in the band I contacted her.

Charlie Yap is a kind gentleman who, like a few friends, sends me WhatsApp posters and videos. Although he plays bass, I never realised he is the present band leader of this popular local group that is currently active in our clubs. When I asked him if he could tell me about his band, he willingly obliged. 

As usual, we met at my favourite rendezvous. Charlie tells his story straight, cuts no corners and from how he describes his management style, runs it with integrity and precision.

He is a sound man, both in the work he does and the person that he is. Charlie is technically an acoustics professional. 

Thank you, Charlie, for the article and photographs too. 
Although Locomotion was formed in 2005, the individual members are an experienced lot as most of them have been in the Singapore and, for some members, the Asian music scene for many years. Most of them have been playing or singing since the 1970's and earlier.

Locomotion in 2007: L/R - Jerry Murad, Kelly Tan, Bert Choo, Vivian Bacillino, Hansolo, Charlie Yap (joined as bassist) and Tony Goh.

The five or seven-piece band started out as a group of enthusiasts jamming together because of their passion for music.  As the months went by and with their quality control performance, positive attitude and work ethics, the news spread and everyone wanted to dance to their music.

As their engagements increased and they started getting invitations to perform at corporate parties, birthdays and anniversaries, the group became serious and began to perform in venues all over.

With their wide repertoire and professionalism, Locomotion gained its reputation as a reliable band and chugged its way to the hearts of members of private and corporate clubs like, The American Club, Singapore Swimming Club, Tanglin Club and other private community clubs.* 

They even received requests to play for the Peranakan Museum, Emily of Emerald Hill, an event organised by our National Heritage Board. These musically experienced gentlemen and the lady would usually hold two key positions in the band:
L/R (2017) - Bert Choo, Ngo Chi Phong, Charlie Yap, Vivian Bacillino, Jerry Murad, Aloysius and Kelly Tan.

(1) Charlie Yap - Leader and Bassist
(2) Vivian Bacinillo - Lead Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist
(3) Kelly Tan - Vocalist and Guitarist
(4) Ngo Chi Phuong - Vocalist and Keyboardist
(5) Aloysius Soh- Lead guitarist and Vocalist
(6) Bert Choo - Drummer
(7) Jerry Murad - Vocalist, Saxophonist and Flutist.

As their reputation for delivering quality dance music grew, they hit the high tracks and began performing at international hotels like the Holiday Inn Parkview and the Copthorne Orchid Hotel.* 
L/R (2017) - Aloysius Soh, Bert Choo, Kelly Tan, Vivian Bacinillo, Charlie Yap and Ngo Chi Phuong.

Locomotion is truly in demand, an energetic band that is keeping patrons dancing, singing and grooving wherever they performed. Requests for a particular song or a favourite tune has never been turned down. 

The repertoire they have is wide; they have been known to play many long forgotten songs with calm, ease and dexterity and could easily provide music that covers golden oldies from the 50's onward. And there are not many dance bands around in Singapore. Shadows bands, we have but dance bands; it's a rarity here.

Latin, Bossa Nova, Country, Calypso, Rhumba, Cha Cha, Bachata, Samba, Tango, Hawaiian, Merengue, Waltz, Jive, Foxtrot, Rock n Roll, Twist, A-go-go or Line Dancing; name it and Locomotion will deliver. 

"What about Pachanga, Charlie? Play that too?" I asked jokingly.

"No problem," said Charlie.

They're in black, they're in red, white and blue.

Definitely, no disruption when you board this train.  One of the best musical train rides in Singapore; hop on board Locomotion

Video below:

*Clubs, Hotels and Venues Locomotion have performed at:

Tanah Merah Country Club, Singapore Island Country Club, Singapore Recreation Club, Raffles Town Club, The Eurasian Club, NUSS Graduate Club, Serangoon Garden Country Club and Changi Beach Club.  

Inter-Continental Hotel, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Swissotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, Grand Mercure Roxy, Hotel Royal Queen Hotel,  Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Shangri-la Hotel, Pan Pacific Hotel and Marina Sands Bay.

Disclaimer: This article does not promote the band but showcases how Singapore seniors make themselves useful in an ever-changing and challenging music environment.
 Andy Young with Charlie Yap, bandleader, Locomotion. With the full band below on 25 August 2018 @ the Singapore Recreation Club.

Images and Article: A Personal Collection. Copyrights Reserved.



Bro Andy,
Locomotion the Singapore dance band: I know at least half of them in the group, including their late leader, Tony Goh who was a thoroughbred Peranakan (Straits born Chinese). Tony Conga was his nick name. He used to frequent our Bedok South food outlets before his passing.

He played conga drums in a band Jerry Murad (from the Dukes) put together. I was in the line-up too as we were doing the grand opening of Parkview Square Building along North Bridge Road.

I attended his funeral wake together with his good friend called, 'Mister Camera' of the Straits Times. He is photographer Jerry Seh who is one of my coffee shop kaki (buddy).


Wow Andy, what a great write-up on LOCOMOTION. Having known them all and individually, and being close to them, I find they are the most dedicated and disciplined lot of musicians I have ever met.

Their professionalism is first class.


They've played at SGCC a few times.


Awesome. Good write up.

EC LOW said...

Well done.


It's a marvellous piece, thanks for recording the history of Singapore music, keep up the great work!

AUDIE NG said...

Yes, LOCOMOTION is one of the few bands that is nicely attired, with a good Filipino singer, who doubles up as PR and plays the guitar. Also these bands, like D Mandarins perform quite regularly and should be of professional quality.

(This comment has been edited.)


I've known Charlie Yap for a number of years. On several occasions he filled up as a bassist for me when our regular bassist couldn't turn up. Only recently I discovered that Irene Yap is his sister.


Thank you very much, Andy.

We are not as popular as the 60's or 70's bands. We are more to the ballroom and our fans are mostly the dancing groups.

We only started in 2005 but lucky we are still surviving after the passing away of our manager, Tony Goh. But competition is keen and there are many other bands in the business creating healthy rivalry. That's life and we just move on.

Hope to meet up with you again for another chit-chat Andy.


Lokotak Lo
Paul Shankar
Van Der Beek Philip
Rahim Sadli Spinal Chords
Lee Khon Fatt
Philip Ling
Md Iqbal Md Ismail
John Cher
Francis Arios
Tony Ng
Francis Christopher
Winston Koh
Norman Kok
Foo Jong Fook
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Cat Quinn Do
Irene Yap
Sam Toh
Lynn Yap
James Tan
Victoria Apostol

MARY HO said...

Very good music for dancing. We love Charlie Yap's Locomotion band.


Three cheers!!!!!

MD IQBAL said...

Awesome band.