In 1997, Gary Sinise and his pal and fellow Steppenwolf Theatre co founder Terry Kinney decided to do a production of Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire at Steppenwolf in Chicago. Sinise would play Stanley Kowalski and Kinney would direct. Kinney hired Chicago composer Kimo Williams to write the music and it was during the technical rehearsals for the play that Gary and Kimo began to discuss their love for music. Learning of Gary's talents on the bass, Kimo invited him to his home for a jam session. Over the next few years, whenever possible, the two would play together with other Chicago area musicians and in 2003, as Gary began what has turned out to be an extraordinary commitment to the USO, it became clear that those early jam sessions had laid the foundation for what would become The Lieutenant Dan Band.
In 2003, following one of his many trips overseas to visit those serving our country that year, Gary asked the USO if they would allow him to take a band with him on a tour. He wanted to entertain in the spirit of the Bob Hope tours in years past. As he had already gone on several handshake tours, the USO agreed. The band was pulled together, began rehearsing, and in February of 2004, Gary Sinise and The Lieutenant Dan Band hit the road on their first overseas USO tour to Korea, Singapore and Diego Garcia. From those early sessions at Kimo’s house, a few gigs for the troops in the Chicago area in 2003, and that first overseas tour, Gary and the band have played an average of 30-40 shows per year with a good 95% of those shows for USO, military charities, resiliency events or benefits. Over 300 shows since its founding.
After forming his own military charity, Gary Sinise Foundation, the band was folded into GSF as a program of the foundation and continues its primary mission of support for military and veterans through Honor, Gratitude, Rock and Roll.
"Lieutenant Dan" is the character Gary portrayed in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, a role for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. As Gary began visiting troops around the world, people (even little kids) who didn't know him as Gary Sinise, the actor, would recognize him as "Lt.Dan". Those in the miliary also seem to identify strongly with the character. And so the name for his group was an easy choice:
Gary Sinise and The Lt. Dan Band!
The band covers everything from classics by Stevie Wonder, Journey, Bruce Springsteen, and The Police to contemporary songs by Bruno Mars, The Band Perry, Sara Bareilles, Dave Matthews Band, Beyoncé, the Zac Brown Band and much much more. Pop, Rock, Blues, Motown, Soul, Country, even tunes from the 40's big band era. There's something for everyone and each show highlights the musical diversity of the band, as well as the passion and energy each member brings to the stage. Whether performing for troops overseas or at a local club, the goal is to have fun and rock the house!