Maurer, a Minneapolis-based pianist, composer and producer, launched “Stripped Down” in October 2015 as a venue for letting Pioneer Place audiences get to know their favorite musicians in an intimate setting.
He just signed with a record label, and he’s getting ready to drop a new E.P.
But first, Justin Ploof is going to give a Pioneer Place audience the first live listen of some of his new songs in the intimate setting of host George Maurer’s “Stripped Down” show.
“Love Songs & Other Strangers,” his first release on Miami label Essential Media Group, officially gets released June 9 under his solo performance name, Justin McGuinn. Justin is George’s featured guest for the May 14 “Stripped Down,” and the St. Cloud native is hinting rather broadly that he’s going to treat his hometown fans to the live debut of two or three tunes from the E.P.
Justin will share the stage with George to play some acoustic tunes and talk about his musical influences, memories and the excitement building for “Love Songs & Other Strangers.” Listeners of 94.9 The Mix supported his “My Heart is Where You Are” single with an overwhelming 93 percent “flips” and only 7 percent “flops” in a recent online poll.
Fans who know Justin from his shows with the Throwbacks and Sell Out Stereo will find that “Love Songs & Other Strangers” has a more contemporary feel.
“It’s definitely more modern sounding, but again there’s elements of a lot of groups I grew up with in there.”
He’ll do some reminiscing about those groups as George probes his musical past in “Stripped Down’s” part-interview, part-concert format. The radio in his parents’ 1977 Bonneville exposed the young Justin to influential songs like “Fun, Fun, Fun” by the Beach Boys and “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds and classic country artists like Marty Robbins and Hank Williams. Other influences like Oasis — when he sings “Wonderwall” you’d swear he was the third Gallagher brother — came later and blended into a style uniquely Justin’s.
The Ploofs are a musical family, led by Justin’s dad, Dan. Justin started playing guitar when he was 12 and formed his first band, Pompus Groove, in middle school. And yes, they purposely spelled “Pompus” wrong. “We thought we were being super cool and artsy,” he says.
Justin and his brothers Jason and Jamie made their name on the Minnesota music scene in the early 2000s with their pop-rock band Roger, which had a huge fan base in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities and landed gigs at famous venues in New York and L.A. like the Roxy, the Viper Room and the House of Blues.
After Roger disbanded, Justin started performing solo and doing the Throwbacks shows. The first was an unnamed 2006 tribute to George Harrison. Then came the “Dylan Under the Covers” show, then Creedence Clearwater Revival, and then they started doing some seasons at Pioneer Place.
His other band, Sell Out Stereo, is all about good-time top 40 tunes. “The idea was to play all really fun hit songs from all different decades. We’re doing everything from Buddy Holly and Elvis to Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson,” he says.
“I actually credit that band and the Throwbacks with helping me develop as a songwriter. When you have to dissect songs, you start to notice some common thread that run through a lot of hit songs, and you kind of incorporate that into your own music.”
This is the last show of the second “Stripped Down” season. George, a Minneapolis-based pianist, composer and producer, launched “Stripped Down” in October 2015 as a venue for letting Pioneer Place audiences get to know their favorite musicians in an up-close, pared-down setting. The season opened with two sold-out shows featuring Paul “Stretch” Diethelm and included appearances by Mary Jane Alm, Muggsy Lauer and Mark Hasbrouck.