Kevin McGowan, PMP

Writer, Podcaster, Project Manager

Satchmo The Great

It is rare to find a well-known jazz artist in the stacks at a thrift shop. Generally, these get picked up quickly by the first person walking by. This time, it was me.

Satchmo The Great is a soundtrack from the film by the same name. Some amazing tunes here as Louis Armstrong and his band play their hearts out on tour in Europe and Africa. I am partial to pure live albums, so this one is a bit jarring when listening because after a few songs, you get lengthy interview segments with Satchmo and Edward R. Murrow. I’ve heard other live albums with this same device incorporated, and I feel it kills the vibe of the record. The Q and A make it more of a historical document or a curio, which isn’t what I want when I am blasting some Dixieland.

Still, you can’t beat the songs, the artist, or anything else on this album.

 

Ramones – 40th anniversary

This is how you do a reissue, folks. The first RAMONES LP, in mono, with 3 CDs of demos, live shows, and whatever else they could throw into this thing. When this first came out, I wanted a copy, but I was not willing to pay $80 for it.

Then, one day, on Amazon.ca, they were selling this beast for $15.00. I grabbed it before the price shot back up. I even posted it on one of my vinyl Facebook groups, and I received about 100 thank you notes from other fans who got it for that temporary and unbelievably good price.

Listening now, very loud. The album is a classic by any measure. The clean Mono mix and extras make it a great package.

 

 

Half the Way Valley

Anyone remember these guys? This is the one and only album by Sea Hags. This album was one of my holy grails (in record collecting circles, grails are the albums you want to desperately find in a store, without breaking the bank). I used to have it on cassette when I was a teenager, and have been humming the long single (Half the Way Valley) often for the last 20+ years. It’s catchy, growly, and just a little rough around the edges.

Sea Hags were one of those post-GnR bands that was poised to be the next big thing in 1989. They even shared a producer (Mike Clink). However, all the hard-rock groove and sweet hooks weren’t enough. The band were unfortunately heroin addicts and alcoholics, so their fate was sealed. Within a few years of this album’s release, 2 of them were dead from overdoses, so the band was over.

A sad story (and a common one) from the industry. But even with that hanging over it, almost 30 years later, this is a fantastic album.

And no, I didn’t find this one in a thrift shop. I found it on Discogs for $10, which was good enough for me.

 

So Long, Leonard

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with Leonard Cohen’s music. From my teen days when I was just kinda going along with the kids who claimed to get it, to my 20s when I started getting it myself, and now into my 40s when I may actually get him a little bit.

I don’t listen to him all the time, but am a fan in phases where I listen to a ton of Cohen for weeks at a time, and then move on to other things. He’s been the soundtrack for growing up, for love affairs, and awful breakups. Once, no joke, his CDs were little more than a projectile aimed at my head by a former girlfriend. Didn’t listen to him for a while after that.

When I heard he had this new album coming out, and read some stellar reviews, I did some YouTube surfing and ultimately my loving wife gave me this LP for Christmas 2016.

I’m sorry to know he has left us. My loss is nothing compared to his family, his friends. But I’m glad I can revisit this great artist when the mood strikes. This is a particularly good Cohen album, mixing chants with the signature female backing vocals. His baritone is pained, more so than earlier records. But his passion remains. Like Bowie who left us earlier in 2016, this is a man who was inspired to the end, and he will continue to inspire me too.

 

The T in SMART

I am not the first, nor will I be the last to write about SMART learning objectives.

Originally developed by Peter Drucker in the early 1980s, there have been variations on the basic theme by writers and educators over the decades.

The version I’m most familiar with is this: The SMART mnemonic represents Learning Objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Sounds simple enough, right?

 

Read the whole article on LinkedIn

Seguin

Recently found a clean copy of this piece of Quebec folk, and am really enjoying it. Primarily a duo of Richard Seguin and his sister Marie Claire Seguin, they recorded this album with a full band. 

Very mellow and unique, the siblings have a natural sense of harmony and collaboration. The band exists primarily to add some depth and the odd musical flourish, and allow the singers to remain center stage.

Both Seguins have had long careers, but I admit this is the first time I’ve heard them. This LP was recorded in 1972 in Montreal, and I will be grabbing anything else I find with their names on it as I tour the second hand shops. 

Here’s a sample. Enjoy!

The Ruckus in Ottawa (with Alan Neal) – #tbt

ruckus_newThe Ruckus was a lot fun, especially the series I did about the Ottawa music scene. I invited CBC personality Alan Neal to tell me about what he liked most about the scene, so we went to The Manx and talked about music. Good times. 

Listen to it here.

Song of the day: Anthems for a seventeen year-old girl

The Canadian band that made music that was poppy, hooky, art-intense, and fun. Always loved watching these guys play.

The Ruckus in Beirut – #tbt

ruckus_new

Ever wondered about the pop music being made in Beirut, Lebanon? This was a great episode of The Ruckus, and I think it holds up well.

Click here to listen.

 

Zen and the PMP

zenpmp

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Since I obtained my PMP designation in late 2015, many people have asked me for advice on how to prepare for the exam. I will admit that it was not necessarily the most graceful period for me, but I do have some ideas to share on the subject. After all, I did pass the exam while juggling many other work and family responsibilities. For me, the biggest challenge wasn’t the material itself. My challenges were finding the time to study, and stopping the “noise” of daily life from interfering with that time.

Let’s look at my regular daily life: I’m a husband and father, I work full time, I teach part time. When I can, I also like to write blogs and produce podcasts. My waking time is all spoken for (and sleeping time as well!).  So, jamming one more thing into my schedule meant that I was going to be really off balance and other aspects of my life were going to be put on hold.

Read the rest on LinkedIn.

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