published Friday, August 17th, 2012

Alt-folk family quartet bring emotional music to Barking Legs on Saturday

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What: Von Grey in concert.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

Admission: $10 advance, $13 at the door.

Phone: 624-5347.


There are worse things in life for a young musician than living just down the hallway from members of your string quartet.

Although they occasionally undergo the same spats that plague other siblings, members of Atlanta-based alt-folk band von Grey said there are definite advantages to performing with family.

"We all were brought up together, so we have pretty similar creative vision," said Annika von Grey. "It makes us feel a lot more comfortable. Sometimes, it's intense because we have sibling rivalry, but it never gets in the way."

Kathryn, 17, Annika, 16, Fiona, 14, and Petra, 12, were classically trained on the violin, viola and cello. Their first performances were providing background chamber music at weddings.

They began shifting away from those roots about three and a half years ago, first by layering in vocals to sing bluegrass music. Eventually, they evolved into harmony-laced indie folk/pop in the vein of artists such as Mumford & Sons and Sarah McLachlan, for whom they opened in 2010.

Saturday, von Grey will return to Chattanooga for a show at Barking Legs Theater. They played here in July 2011 (at Charles & Myrtle's Coffeehouse and Tennessee Valley Theatre in Spring City). They also have a show scheduled Sept. 22 at the Gem Theater in Calhoun, Ga.

Annika said that, while she and her sisters have benefited from the creative synergy of being related, they have faced preconception from outsiders for their age and for being a family band.

"We've been working really hard to become musicians who can stand their own ground," she said. "That's helped establish that we're a serious act and are passionate about what we're doing, not just kids ... whose parents are forcing them to do it.

"We really love what we're doing, and we put a lot of time and passion and energy into it."

That approach has helped von Grey recently to gain momentum and high-profile gigs, including shows in support of McLachlan and The Chieftains among the 200 shows they played in the last two years.

This fall, the band will celebrate the release of a five-song debut EP produced and engineered by Nick DiDia, whose credits include work for Bruce Springsteen, Train and Gaslight Anthem.

Annika said she hopes the album, and all their future releases, capture a level of emotion that audiences react to emotionally without regard for labels.

"We're just trying to create music that makes someone feel something," she said. "That's the main thing, to create music that is an emotional form of art."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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