Latta says he's 50. Accompanied not by a band but by a simple amplifier and a minidisc player loaded with backup music, Latta covers standards by Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr. and Neil Diamond, singing in a low growl just ... behind ... the beat, then rushing to finish each line.
Words come out fast and sometimes garbled. He changes costumes constantly, using the kitchen as a dressing room. He wears a black-and-gold jacket for Sinatra, a white jacket with blue and red sequins for Neil Diamond.
Request a song and he'll sing it. Buy him a shot and he'll take it. Again and again, he leans too close to his sound system; each song is followed by a trail of feedback.
His repertoire is deep -- between songs made famous by Elvis, Wayne Newton and Kenny Rogers, he does impressions of Clint Eastwood, Muhammad Ali, Sylvester Stallone, Ronald Reagan, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Nicholson, Archie Bunker, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam and Porky Pig.
"You want the audience. That is your high," he says. "It's like anything else -- there are times I don't want to get to work, but then I come in, and then I hit the first note, and then I'm fine."
He'd never sung Sinatra before gigging in Kansas City, but the audiences demanded it, so he learned the songs -- not just the words but what they meant. "The music is so soothing, and there's something about the songs. Everybody knows them," he says. "Someone in their 60s is singing it, and someone in their 20s is singing it. And the words are the real magic, maybe, that's in the heart."