Band Leaders and Director, 1998 – 2022
Mike LaRoche, band leader for Sweet Georgia Sound, passed on April 7, 2022. Mike was a Sweet Georgia Sound founding member, starting with the group over 28 years ago. He followed his passion for big band music as both performer and band leader.
You can play for yourself, you can play for other musicians, or you can play for the general public. In most cases (if you are good enough) you will get the audience you asked for.Mike LaRoche, email signature used in band-related emails
Mike relentlessly focused on ‘the music people want to hear’. This sometimes put him at odds with performers who considered themselves to be ‘serious musicians’.
You can’t make people like your taste in music just by playing well.
Mike had the band play music that got people excited. He wanted songs that got people moving with the music, whether in their seats or on the dance floor. He knew people move with music they know and love.
For the past two decades, audiences saw Mike in the leadership role at band performances. That was a small portion of the devoted work Mike did. Unseen was hauling a sound system and stands, arranging substitutes, and handling administrative tasks. He accepted the challenge of getting musicians to play harmoniously (both with their instruments and in their interactions – an experience not unlike herding cats).
Mike’s work in keeping the band moving onward was in support of his passion for bringing the sound of American Standards to the listeners and dancers in Chattanooga. Sweet Georgia Sound will continue that mission, in so doing provide the best memorial to Mike’s lifetime devotion to creating music.