By: Sawyer Smith
An Interview with Nick McMenamin from Pompe n’ Honey
I had only just gotten my rambunctious beagle mix to stop barking at a made-up threat when Nick McMenamin answered my phone call. He offered me a warm hello and when I warned him that the pup might start barking again, he told me understood. He has a little guard dog of his own.
Whether or not his dog will be accompanying him on his first river trip with Holiday this year, I forgot to ask, but how cute would that be? He told me he expects the trip to have mellow vibes and exciting whitewater, although still good for families or beginners. My guess is that furry friends will need to be left at home…
“We’re really excited,” he went on to say. “Each of us has done river trips in the past, but in my case, I haven’t done a whitewater trip in many years.”
Nick, along with his bandmates, Sam, David, and Melissa, will be helping to facilitate a trip along the Green River this summer through the Gates of Lodore, entertaining attendees along the way with their French swing-inspired sound. “The word pompe,” he explained. “Is a French word that refers to the rhythm style in Manouche jazz… It was a style pioneered by Django Reinhardt at the ‘Hot Club’ of France.” He also mentioned another big inspiration, a country swing artist from Texas, Bob Wills.
This mini history lesson sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, and I did some research myself. The Wikipedia page for Django Reinhardt is a bit dry, but the man’s actual music is anything but. And neither is the music of Pompe n’ Honey, which you can check out for yourself by clicking here!
Pompe n’ Honey n’ Holiday
So how did Pompe n’ Honey come to be special guests on a river rafting trip through the Gates of Lodore? It was a bit serendipitous actually. “We played a wedding for one of our friends in town,” said Nick. “She used to work at Holiday. They saw that we had played at the wedding and reached out… It was a dream of ours to do trips and retreats, so to get invited was a pretty big honor.”
Though this will be the first time Pompe n’ Honey joins Holiday for a river trip, it’s not the first outdoor event they’ve hosted. It’s the adventure element, Nick said, which was novel for them. “We have, in the past, hosted a gathering—a music gathering—in the desert, but that was more informal. More of a gathering of musicians. Which is going to happen again this year.”
All of us in the band really love nature and being outdoors, and we love music and each other. Bringing that energy to the trip will be a wonderful time.”
This trip is great for anyone new to rafting because it fosters a less intimidating way to get involved. You’ll go through fun class III & IV rapids, but also lots of calmer float sections. The guides stop above the larger rapids and make sure everyone is comfortable and secure for the ride. Plus, you’ll hear some incredibly live music along the way!
“It will feel like really a homecoming of sorts,” he added. “I always feel at ease and at peace deep down in the desert.”
Where to Find Pompe n’ Honey
If you can’t attend their river rafting trip this year, the good news is that there are other ways to hear the band’s amazing music. One of the band members, Melissa, even started a collective called Trash Moon Collective. “It’s an organization that’s hosting community events—jams and dances.”
Pompe n’ Honey is also hosting a fundraiser in February. “That’s happening on February 8th, and it’s at The Commonwealth Room. We’ll have a night of several bands.”
And of course, you can find more about the band and upcoming shows on their social media pages. If you live in the Salt Lake area, you should definitely check out one of their shows. And if you don’t live in the Salt Lake area, maybe you should take a trip out just to see them. I get the feeling that the band, though it’s made up of people who weren’t born in Utah, isn’t going to be leaving the Beehive State anytime soon.
“We’re actually all transplants here to Utah… All of us have lived in many places, but we feel like this is our home. We love going down to the desert.”
It makes sense, then, that their latest album is titled Desert Moon. Who knows—maybe their next album will be called The Gates of Lodore or something similar. Attendees on their river trip could be a part of history in the making!
And if not, they’ll still get to see some stunning views and listen to wonderful music. The way I see it, it’s a win either way.
Sawyer Smith is a Utah native currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. When she isn’t working as a freelance writer or hiking through sections of the Mark Twain National Forest, she is planning trips in her head back to her beloved state to once again climb on the red rocks and ski down the snowy mountains.