Best Haitian Band (2006)

Jude Papaloko and Loray Mistik

Jude Thegenius (a.k.a. Jude Papaloko) draws much of his inspiration as a painter and musician from his youth in Haiti. "In Haiti, if you spoke out against the government, the police could come into your house at night, take you away, and you'd disappear forever," says Thegenius. Despite the high risk, Jude and a group of musicians and activists formed an organization called Sunshine and put on performances that were critical of the government. "The music was about revolt," Thegenius explains. "One day the police came in and started shooting." The police continued to put pressure on Sunshine, and in 1986 Jude left Haiti for Miami. Now, when he's not working on after-school art programs for kids in Miami's inner city, Jude plays percussion and does lead vocals for his band Loray Mistik at his art own gallery, Jakmel Art Gallery (147 NW 36th St.). Jakmel moved from its old location on Biscayne Boulevard, where in 2004 it won this paper's Best Place to Slow Dance. The new Jakmel is a warehouse Thegenius turned into a creative cultural center. There is a studio for painting, a gallery, a back-yard area with a small bar for parties, and a performance room with a stage and dance floor that Thegenius built himself. On Mondays at 7:00 p.m., the gallery hosts training for aspiring drummers. The Loray Mistik sound comes from a fusion of Haitian, African, and a bit of Brazilian music, with lyrics that are always thoughtful and politically conscious. Thegenius has appeared on two albums: Timounyo, which he recorded with his band, and Full Moon Energy, which he recorded with the Drum Society, with whom he began the Full Moon Drum Gathering. Thegenius writes all of his own songs, including the beautiful "The Life of the Poor Kids," inspired by "the thousands of poor kids who sleep in the streets of Haiti at night," he says.


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