YORKVILLE — Tallan Noble Latz is a bit of an impulse buyer when it comes to guitars. He's starting to lose track of how many he's owned and played.
Tallan, 22, is a singer, guitarist and songwriter who is known for his blues-infused rock and roll. He started playing at the young age of 5. He covers classic rock, modern-day blues rock and original music.
“Music to me is a real uniter,” he said. “Music changes everyone’s moods, it brings happiness and joy to people.”
‘Music is everything’
After starting his own band at age 7, he shared the stage at age 9 with Les Paul, a Waukesha-native jazz, country and blues guitarist credited with inventing the solid-body electric guitar. Tallan said that was the most notable performance he’s had.
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“It was a huge honor and amazing experience,” he said.
Tallan has performed with many artists and titans of music, including Joe Bonamassa, Los Lonely Boys, JJ Grey, Ian Moore, Van Wilks, Devon Allman of The Allman Brothers Band, Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Hubert Sumlin, Jackson Browne, Ana Popavic, Guitar Shorty, Michael Burks, Chris Duarte, Walter Trout, Albert Cummings, Bugs Henderson, Derek St. Holmes and Howard Leese.
He has performed concerts as close as Route 20 in Yorkville and Alpine Valley in Elkhorn. He’s performed as far as international destinations such as Canada and Denmark. He’s also played in Texas, New York, Tennessee and Los Angeles. His favorite venue to play at down south was Cowboys Dancehall in Arlington, Texas. The venue is now permanently closed.
He also launched his “One Hell of a Summer” series this year which has consisted of nine events at Route 20 over the span of four months, June-October, with different line ups and 30 guest musicians performing nine genres.
Tallan learned 200 new songs for the series. The band has covered Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Megadeath, Grand Funk Railroad, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Velvet Revolver.
“This summer has been a lot,” he said. “I’m playing all different stuff. We’re doing all these different events and people don’t realize how hard it actually is.”
Music is not his full-time job, but he said he hopes one day it will be. He works during the day at a warehouse and rehearses with his band in the evenings at least once a week.
“Music is everything to me and that’s what I plan on doing,” he said.
‘Giving the gift back’
Tallan said he lives in the “outskirts of Elkhorn” in Walworth County. He graduated from Elkhorn Area High School in 2018.
His father, Carl Latz, has acted as stage manager, roadie and booking agent. He even had an influence on Tallan’s musical beginnings.
At age 5, Carl gave Tallan the choice of Easter gifts: a remote-control boat, a bike or a guitar. Tallan went with the guitar option and began taking lessons.
“I was absorbing it. I fell in love with it,” Tallan said. “I haven’t looked back since.”
From ages 7-8, he was taking lessons from three people: teachers in Milwaukee, Mukwonago and as far as Indiana.
He took various breaks from lessons and watched YouTube videos to learn more. But it hasn’t stopped there; he’s still learning.
“I watch so many different guitar players and I steal little ideas from everyone,” he said. “It’s taking different ideas and really making it my own. And that's helped me grow as a player, even as a songwriter.”
Tallan, whose project was once called T-Man’s Blues Project, now goes by his band’s name of simply Tallan.
In 2009, he won the Rising Star Of The Year award from the Wisconsin Area Music Industry.
He said his musical style has changed throughout the years he’s been playing.
When he started off, he was very interested in the blues. While he still loves the blues, his repertoire has expanded into blues rock, classic and hard rock.
“I would take a little piece of each teacher’s thing, the way their style was, I take a little bit from each of them. I would take them all into one and kind of mesh into me,” he said. “I’ve still kept that blues roots, but kind of thrown it into more of today’s style, or today’s blues rock.”
Carl said the best part is seeing his son evolve into the man he’s able to be.
“When we’re on the road it’s twenty-four-seven, just me and him, spending time together,” Carl said. “Every parent should be able to do that … I’ve just been blessed that we’ve been able to do that.”
In the beginning of Tallan’s career, Carl helped with the set list. But in past years, Tallan’s mainly taken control of that as well as other musician responsibilities such as planning rehearsals and show dates.
“I’m thankful that he gets the opportunity to live the life that he chooses. He’s got a gift and he’s just giving the gift back,” Carl said.
The “One Hell of a Summer” series was Tallan’s idea. He pitched it to Ray Stibeck, owner of Route 20 in Yorkville, where Tallan performs once every two weeks.
“It’s a blast watching an idea come to fruition,” Tallan said. “It’s even better when you see people getting into it, being able to watch people love it as much as you have.”
Stibeck said he was on board with hosting the residency because he wanted to try something different for his music venue.
“It’s been great watching him grow up and watch him evolve professionally,” Stibeck said. “A lot of people in this area have seen him evolve too. It’s nice to see a local musician be able to be as masterful of a musician as he is.”
Launching an album
Besides streaming platforms, physical copies of “Tallan” are also available at shows. He is working on creating posters and more T-shirt merchandise in addition to what he already offers. He’s also at work writing his second album, release date to be determined.
While Tallan doesn’t have any specific mentors, he is influenced by plenty of other musicians, former teachers and musical albums he’s heard and loved.
Tallan’s favorite album is Van Halen’s eponymous debut, which is “raw and in your face,” he said. He wanted to create a similar feeling for his first album.
“I would just kind of have a riff, and the song would take place from there,” Tallan said. “All the songs were different emotions that I was going through at that certain moment.”
He had visions of what his songs would be in his head, but once he started recording and adding layers to the music, the songs turned out totally different.
“A lot of the songs kind of grew and were shaped differently,” he said. “They just kind of took their own life and grew into what they are on the record today.”
Tallan added he’s proud of the finished product.
“It’s one thing to play covers. But when you play your own music, you’re really putting yourself in a vulnerable state because you’re expressing your feelings,” he said. “It’s a little nerve wracking because you want people to love it just as much as you do, because it’s your baby.”