If only we could save these troubles for another day. For all who knew and loved Nicholas “Pumpkin” Alvarado, the news of his death is a deeply saddening and tragic event. In an instant, the world lost a beloved artist in a fatal car accident. Nick was on his way to Head for the Hills Festival in Kerrville, Texas on Friday, March 25th. Pumpkin’s desire to bring love and happiness to the world through music has touched and inspired thousands of friends and fans. His death is a devastating loss to our music community.
In all the years I have been writing about Nick, whether as Pumpkin, NICK.the.NECK, or half of Little Giants, I never imagined having to write about him in the past tense. His music has truly been the soundtrack to my life. Whether I’m happy, sad, excited, frustrated, alone, bored, or angry, Pumpkin has been there. On my worst days, I turn to his remix of “Good Day” featuring Everyman and belt the lyrics until I feel better. Whether I was bringing in the new year, drenched in sunshine, processing a break-up, teaching kindergarten, going for an interview, or traveling the world, I listened to Pumpkin and shared his music. Until these last few days, there was never an occasion I didn’t want to hear Pumpkin. Nick and his music have filled thousands of hearts with love. He has impacted my life, along with countless others, in ways words still can’t express.
His blend of melodic house, nostalgic pop, love-step, and mid-tempo remixes have drawn the most positive, loving crowds of people I have ever met. Gathering for a Pumpkin set was really quite special. Through lightning and thunder, scorching heat, freezing nights, long distances, dust storms, muddy waters, or miles of hills, we came to dance. The radiance he projected from the DJ booth echoed into the crowd where uproarious laughter, nonsensical shenanigans, and endless seas of smiles created this musical potion of love magic. Nick created this blissful bubble of the most positive vibes in the Universe! It was our ‘happy place.’
Pumpkin played an integral role on The Woogie Stage at Lightning in a Bottle, was a crucial member of L.A.’s Boogaloo crew, and has graced the lineup of both global music festivals and underground shows. If you’ve ever had an interaction with Nick, I would place a safe bet that he’s warmed your heart. His lifelong dream was to make people smile. His aspiration was to “make dreams come true” through “loud noises… musical ones… the pretty shit.”
Both Pumpkin and his ‘Acorns,’ a.k.a. his friends and fans, expressed appreciation for one another by putting up their hands in the shape of a heart. His ‘spirit animal’ was a Muppet. We joked way too often about The Rugrats – his favorite characters were Phil and Lil. We were conspiring a top-secret plan to release an April Fool’s interview, chock full of silly antics and utter debauchery. Photos from festivals, shows, sunrises, and sunsets are surfacing rampantly on Facebook, capturing the essence of his vibrant soul. He recently posted on his Facebook page, “I was a clown, am a clown, and will always be a clown. “
A future without Pumpkin tangles my insides, but in the dimmest of lights there must be a reason. How can we spread Nick’s contagious magic? How can we continue this ripple of love through music? How can we be grateful for the impact he made on this world while accepting that he is no longer on this astral plane? What is our role as the community who supported him? While we can’t “eat an elephant in a single bite,” all of us Acorns must continue his mission as leaders of light and love.
Photography by Richard William Guerra
I invite you to embrace the symbol of the acorn, which can teach us all a lesson about our own potential. Acorns symbolize luck, prosperity, and growth. They represent youthfulness, strength, and stability. One little acorn can sprout into a giant oak tree and germinate an entire forest. Now Nick is the part of the oak tree we can no longer see, the roots that navigate underground as tall and wide as the tree itself. The roots of the oak tree are the foundation, the crucial system that grounds and provides stability.
Let us take this unfortunate life lesson to heart – be your own acorn. Find your potential and live every day to its fullest. Tell your friends you love them. Find strength in community and ask for help when you need it. Open up to vulnerability, and hold space for others to be vulnerable. Be brave enough to grieve and cry. Follow your dreams. Live with no regrets. Be present. Embrace your inner Muppet! Appreciate life as a blessed gift and don’t ever take it for granted. And never stop dancing.
Photography by Richard William Guerra
Say hi to Jon for us. We love you Pumpkin. <3
“I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”