HOULTON, Maine — A Houlton native who has reached audiences across the world will bring his music to Aroostook County this weekend for an event that will benefit more than just listeners.
Travis James Humphrey, a 1995 Houlton High School graduate, will celebrate the release of a 10-song collection CD “Dirty Beautiful World,” from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 16, at a party with Northern Musical Supply as host on Calais Road in Houlton.
The fete also marks the third time that Humphrey has donated the first $500 of revenue from the sale of one of his CDs to benefit the Houlton Humane Society.
This is Humphrey’s third CD. His debut solo CD, “Yellow Cat Blues,” was released in 2002, and “Cowgirl Romance” was released in 2006.
Humphrey got his start at age 11 when he joined the American Boy Choir School, a national touring choir. He traveled across the country with the group for two years before returning to Houlton when he was 13 to join his father, Tim Humphrey, to play old rock ’n’ roll and country tunes in bars and other locations in the region.
After high school, he joined the military, playing in the Air Force Band for eight years as lead singer and guitarist for Silver Wings, a country-rock band. He traveled all over the United States and Europe with the band, returning to Maine around 2002 after singing as far away as Belize.
Humphrey, the newest recording artist to represent Nashville-based Pickers Pride Records, teamed with Woodland native and Nashville guitarist Johnny Hiland as well as Nashville Ninja Management to create “Dirty Beautiful World.” The project was mastered by Grammy Award winner Richard Dodd, produced by Hiland, and all songs, with the exception of “Tombstone Every Mile” and lead vocals were provided by Humphrey. Hiland, a 1993 Woodland High School graduate, also performs guitar, bass and keyboard on the CD.
The Gorham-based singer-songwriter acknowledged Thursday that “Dirty Beautiful World” is different from his past CDs. Songs on the CD include the title track and songs such as “Back End of the Rainbow,” “When We’re Drinking” and “New Day.”
“My first two albums were a bit more independently produced,” he said. “They were where I was at, at the time. I met Johnny [Hiland] last fall, and he wanted to produce my next record. He had a vision for the CD, so I gave him all of my new songs and went out to Nashville. I recorded the CD there and laid down all of the vocals in one night.”
Humphrey classified his newest work as a “pretty straight-ahead country rock” CD.
Donation to animal shelter
“I got into the habit of giving the first $500 generated from every album to the shelter, and I just stuck with it,” he said Thursday. “They do a lot of great work, and I can’t volunteer there anymore, so giving them this money is how I am helping them.”
Humphrey said he volunteered at the shelter a lot while growing up, and his mother, Doreen Humphrey, remains active there.
The Houlton Humane Society operates the Houlton Animal Shelter. The humane society is a nonprofit corporation that offers care and adoption services for stray and abandoned animals in southern Aroostook County.
The shelter provides a home, food and medical care for abandoned and neglected animals while preparing them for adoption. It contracts with approximately 19 towns that pay for its services, but the bulk of its operational money comes from fundraisers.
“The humane society operates on a shoestring, and the staff does a very fine job of caring for the animals, so I just want to help,” Humphrey said. “I’m not financially wealthy, but I have been very fortunate, and it is our responsibility to look after our animals. I also believe if you send out good energy, it will come back to you. I want to offer something back to the community that supported me.”
CD release party Sunday
The Sunday outdoor event is free and will feature hot dogs, popcorn, beverages, desserts and a concert.
“It’s going to be acoustic, just me and my guitar,” said Humphrey. “I am going to sing all of the songs on the album and then play the album for people so they can see what the end result sounds like.”
Humphrey held a release party for his CD at Champions Sports Bar in Biddeford on May 10. Another party is planned from 5 to 7 tonight at Dogfish Bar and Grille in Portland.
A $50 gift certificate to Northern Musical Supply will be raffled at the end of the Houlton release party, and CDs will be available for sale.
“Dirty Beautiful World” is available for sale online as a CD or through download at CD Baby and iTunes. It also is available at Northern Musical Supply and Hollywood Slots in Bangor.
For information, go to www.travisjameshumphrey.com.