NH grad takes top honor in singer/songwriter contest
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
A 2016 North Harrison High School graduate was the winner of the 2021 Gems in the Rough singer/songwriter contest.
“I actually heard about this contest last year the day after the video submission period ended,” said Tyler Hood, 23. “So this year, my friends and I jumped on it quickly when they announced the contest.”
The contest is put on by GemsOnVHS, an “ongoing archive/collection of folk music that focuses on acoustic, unplugged and off-stage performance videos by a variety of musicians,” according to its website. GemsOnVHS was started by Anthony Simpkins, a musicologist and documentarian, in 2011.
“The Gems in the Rough contest is the only thing of its kind that I’ve attempted,” said Hood. “I follow GemsOnVHS, the YouTube channel that put on the contest; they travel around and make videos of songwriters from around the world.”
Hood submitted his song “Lost Love and Home” as his initial entry.
“My friends Collie and Elizabeth and I filmed it on my family’s farm on the Blue River,” he said.
For the video, Hood is seated in a johnboat and plays the guitar. Occasionally, snow can be seen falling from the tree branches.
“The snow wasn’t distracting as much as it made for a very cold February day to be on a johnboat playing guitar,” Hood said.
More than 800 submissions were made to the contest.
Hood, the son of Troy and Tonya Hood of Depauw, said he was “extremely surprised” to learn he had made the top 10.
“Another week later, the top three were announced with my name still being one of them,” said Hood.
The three finalists had to make another video of a different song to submit.
“I chose to submit my song ‘Tears and the Wine’,” Hood said. “It’s a pretty sad song, but it’s one of my favorites that I’ve written.
“After a week of nervousness and not a lot of sleep, we found out that I had won,” he said. “I went out with my friends and celebrated. It couldn’t have been done without the incredible friends and family I have. They supported me and shared the videos and cheered it all on, and I will always be grateful.”
For winning, Hood receives a trip to Nashville and a video with GemsOnVHS (all travel and lodging expenses paid); his choice of one of four Gold Tone instruments; a Magnolia Sessions recording with Anti Corp record label; a recording with Acme Radio in Nashville; a video with several channels, including Punk with a Camera, Somer Sessions, The Ghost Motel, Truthful Sessions and A Song Catcher; a hand-forged knife created by Rusty Creek Forge; a photo shoot with Cass Blair; and a custom hand-crafted 50-50 rabbit and beaver blend hat by Johno Roberts.
Hood said he has played the guitar since he was 12 but has only been performing for about a year.
“My friend and bandmate, Collie Crawford of Elizabethtown, Ky., and I started playing music together a few years ago but only just privately,” Hood said. “We would write songs and show them to each other until we decided to play them in front of other people. So, we started calling ourselves The Hill Figs.
“Collie has played with other bands in the past, but The Hill Figs is the first band I’ve been with,” said Hood, who cites artists Jason Isbell, Townes Van Zandt, John R Miller and Turnpike Troubadours as leaving an impression on him.
Hood now lives in Jeffersonville and works in a warehouse, but he’s still making music.
“Next musically, my band is working on an album that will be ready to share soon,” Hood said. “We are working hard on it, and we’re excited to show it to folks.
“We are also playing a lot locally in the upcoming weeks,” he said. “People can like The Hill Figs on Facebook to see all of our upcoming dates and news.”
The videos Hood entered in the Gems in the Rough contest can be viewed on The Hill Figs’ Facebook page.
You can see the winning entry at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfGd-gOn05Y