Enkhe, The daughter of my host invited me to the Lenin Club, which as at the bottom end of Sukhbataar square. There we met Gana (Ganhuyag) a Mongolian pop singer and composer who was into “world music” and had just been judging the Voice of Asia song contest in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan. His wife, Saraa won, although he could not vote for her. By the way I happened to have bought the double CD of the previous year’s contest which included two Tuvan groups for all you Tuvan throat singing audiophiles. He invited us (an Englishman John had attached himself to me but was more interested in Enkhe, that’s a whole other story!) to his wife’s flat nearby & we started a long drinking & chatting session. This was where I had my first taste of Airag (fermented mare’s milk) it was not too bad, not as good as the fresh country airag. Saraa or Sarantuya has become the highest selling Mongolian artist of all time.
I had met Tsogbadrakh in the UK in 1992, he was part of Tumen Ekh at that time. In fact I bought my first Morin Khuur (It was a little smaller that the standard ones) from him. On returning to UB from the countryside I caught up with him and he invited me to his Ger in Ger City. We had a wonderful meal and played the simplest version of Dembee, a finger game. Whoever lost a round had to eat a Mongolian steamed dumpling or Buzz which was oozing with mutton fat!. Amazingly I won the first 7, so Tsogbadrakh had his fill. He was a skillful and respected Morin Khuur player often performing with khöömiich Ganbold and many others.
I was in UB for the Altan Namar or Golden Autumn Festival. It was held at the opera house and I ended up going to three concerts on 6th 8th and 10th October 1993. The evenings were a mix of traditional ensembles like Tumen Ekh above, Classical music, Army bands, pop singers, a little Jazz and some experimental music. I recorded the evenings on my very bad tape recoder.
One of the line ups for Altan Namar was a tradtional singer with a khuur quartet. Two Morin Khuurs, a larger Morin Khuur and a bass or Ikh Khuur. Consorts like these came about due to the Neo Classical Soviet Model that was forced onto the Mongolian musical world. The Khuur quartet was a version of a String quartet.
I met, who I think is Ganbold’s cousin in an art shop just by the UB hotel where he was working and also playing a mean Morin Khuur
I was meeting Yungdenbat who was deputy of the union of musicians to try and return to Mongolia with a music group to collaborate and tour. My translator Altangerel furthest right was a fan of the Mongolian rock group Chinggis Khan who happened to be in a rehearsal room in the same building. So she happily introduced the lads to me.
I met the Ministry of Culture and Recreation boss Bayar, whose office was just near Tumen Ekh. I was desperate to return to Mongolia so hatched a plan for the group Nada to tour. He required a complete daily schedule for the two months of the proposed 1994 tour all in Mongolian! Luckily I had met Od (Star in Mongolian) who was working at the ministry of information and spoke very good English. He kindly translated for me and I managed to recieve a fully stamped invite for next year! Od later became the Mongolian Ambassador to the USA and also a very rich businessman.