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AG Silver strikes gold

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyRock band AG Silver brings their melodic sounds to the Vilar Performing Arts Center this Monday.
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The first question that fans tend to ask about bands with unusual names is: What does it mean? With Michigan-based band AG Silver, the answer is simple.We were in a talent contest in school and the judge basically demanded a name, and our drummer came up with AG Silver on the spot, and its been too much work to change, said Jon Ornee, front man and piano player for the band.AG Silvers history is a little more complicated than their name, however. The four members of the band Chris McKellar, guitar, Craig Vanderwier, drums and Aaron Cowan, bass came together as teenagers and did the whole high school band thing, playing gigs at coffee houses or wherever else they could to gain experience and recognition, Ornee said.Everything seemed to be falling into place. The band was discovered in Nashville while playing a gig and a short time later, they found themselves in a recording studio. But after the CD release party, Ornee quit the band to figure some things out before he got swept up in the music industry.His hiatus came to an abrupt end though, thanks to drummer Craig Vanderwier, who entered them into a battle of the bands where they ended up doing quite well.We got together and started writing some new stuff and weve been together ever since, said Ornee.

AG Silver has been compared to U2 because of the bands hypnotic blend of melodic instrumentation and Ornees wide-ranging vocals, but they constantly seek to refine their sound and offer up something new to fans, Ornee said. After winning a battle of the bands in Grand Rapids Michigan in 2002, they earned a small following and moderate local success, but something didnt feel right about the direction they were headed.After winning that, it was sort of a weird moment because there was a lot of tension with people wanting to know what we were doing next, said Ornee.The four band members decided to reinvent their sound, scrapping their previous work before spending two years in the basement working on new material. They experimented with sounds and song structures until they felt confident they had a musical catalogue worthy of a stage show.We were a little more pop-rocky before locking ourselves in the basement, and I think weve emerged with something a little more ambient, Ornee said. What were going for is something a little bit more timeless than the stuff that will be radio-friendly and be gone in a couple of years.That formula seems to be working. AG Silver just wrapped up the first half of their North American tour, which was met with strong ticket sales and reviews. Now they are gearing up for the western leg of the tour, which will bring them to the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Monday night. Theyve also released their first full-length CD titled Wake up and Smell Reality. But according to Ornee, nothing brings the bands music to life like their stage show.I think even though I believe in our disc, our live show is what sets us apart, Ornee said, describing their performance as dynamically theatrical. We try to throw some surprises in and make the show sound different each night by bringing a new level of intensity. For a band presently enjoying so much success, the future is not forgotten. They plan on touring heavily next spring and hope to start opening for bigger bands. In the meantime, well be back to the drawing board crafting new tunes for next summer, Ornee said.Im not a preacher or a teacher or anything, but the songs come from some place, obviously. Hopefully (the music) puts people in a place where they can be moved, even if the message itself doesnt move (you).Arts & Entertainment writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com


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