Friday, August 15, 2008

Child Prodigy Gets the Blues

Child prodigies are rare, but are truly a gift to mankind. Rarer still are those who can take the knocks from a society that can't accept them and use that to inspire their creativity even more. Such is the case with an 8-year-old boy by the name of Tallan--a blues guitar player who's already seen his share of performances. More provocatively though, in bars and clubs, where he's made many fans, but unfortunately, a few enemies.

Sometimes to say that adults have no more common sense than children is an insult to children everywhere. The group that is discriminated against often has more common sense than those who this article from the Associated Press demonstrates:

By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 12, 10:51 AM ET
"And what, you might ask, would a kid not even in the third grade have the blues about? The state of Wisconsin for one, and some possibly jealous older musicians for another."

An anonymous e-mail sent to state officials complained that Tallan was too young to perform in taverns and nightclubs because of state child labor laws. His booking agent even got an anonymous letter threatening her with death if she keeps booking him.

When Tallan's father read him the state's letter saying he couldn't play clubs anymore (he can still play festivals), the boy's response — like his music — seemed beyond his years.

"He goes, 'It's not how many times you get knocked down but it's how many times you get back up and go forward,' Carl Latz said his son told him. "And I told him that's exactly what this is all about and if nothing else this letter just taught you a life lesson."
You can't ridicule all adults based on the actions of a few bad apples, (as so many more agree these laws are often nothing but arbitrary), but this is just systematic ageist discrimination, proof positive that the law only works on a child's behalf--not for their best interests. Children are not allowed to go beyond their years in Wisconsin, and because of that, many children are probably not performing as well as the government of Wisconsin thinks they ought to--but luckily, this ageist bigotry isn't slowing this cat down one bit.

Jennifer Ortiz of the state Equal Rights Division said her agency has a responsibility to enforce the law once it becomes aware of a violation. "Well, the law prohibits it, and the Legislature enacted the laws to protect the health, safety and welfare of all children." Latz, who also is Tallan's manager, has asked a legislator for help changing the law but it's unclear whether any action will be taken.
This is because the law in Wisconsin (and most other places) is not enacted to protect the health, safety and welfare of all children...although it may say that officially. All it really does is commodify, stigmatize, lower the standards, repress, stifle, and flat out ignore the very children it's concerned about, with it's unnecessary precautions and bigoted idiocy in this regard. But you'll never read that on paper.

Here's an example of how an ageist bigot "protects" a child:

Boche said she has received backlash from musicians and area bar owners because she supports Tallan. Some have tried to take patrons away, she said. Some even called in fake incidents to police, causing them to look for guns or underage drinkers, she said.
And this is how a tolerant, open-minded, rational individual protects a child:

"If my doors close and I never open again and this boy becomes successful, then I will be the happiest person in the world," she said.
But enough about that. Discrimination is discrimination, and it has existed throughout human history. What is most important is what the boy himself has been telling us all along, that it doesn't matter what they try to do to stifle you, you got to roll with the punches and always turn it into something productive. Luckily for all of us, many more agree than disagree.

Just a few of Tallan's rave reviews:

Greg Koch, 42, an internationally known guitarist and clinician for Fender Musical Instruments, called the backlash despicable. He said most 8-year-olds don't have the strength or attention span to pursue guitar or can't endure the calluses. "It's strange that a kid at this age would glean onto this particular kind of music and show the intensity and kind of the ability to function as kind of 8-year-old blues guy," he said.
Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine, said kid guitar prodigies are rare, with one emerging perhaps every four or five years. "It would be unusual to find an 8-year-old who can play Joe Satriani licks," he said.
Carl Latz [the boy's father] said there's no explanation for Tallan's blues connection other than he seems to have an old soul. "I've had more people tell me, they say 'It's a kid's body but it has a 70-year-old dude inside,'" Carl Latz said.
The article describes his impressive talents and inspiration. His heroes are Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, has company endorsements so he can actually use professional equipment along with his many guitars, and he's got a mind for music--since he can read it and play from memory. He's played with the likes of Les Paul and Jackson Brown, at festivals and his notorious bar and club venues (where he normally packs the places). On stage, he goes by Tallan "T-Man" Latz by his bandmates. He's a member of two bands, "T-Man's Blues Project" where he maintains his own among seasoned musicians, and "T-Man and the Young Guns." He's a multi-instrumentalist--sings, plays drums, harmonica, bass and piano, and still has time for the third-grade.

And when you listen to his bits of wisdom, it makes you proud to know individuals like this still exist in this world:

Tallan said he likes to play guitar to "put smiles on people's faces" when they are having a bad day. "It sounds awesome," he said. "I think it's so much you can do on the guitar."

Tallan said the problems he's faced have doing nothing to dampen his ambition to be a blues rock star when he grows up. Just the opposite, in fact.

"Because I got more inspiration, I got more sadness in me," Tallan said. "I'm just feelin' it."
Seriously, if someone doesn't think this kid can handle his talent, that's their problem. He's already an inspiration not only for all the youths in the world, but for us all, and there's no stopping him.

Here's more information about Tallan:

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