Gary Sinise is not just an actor, he’s also a musician.
Sinise, who plays the bass guitar, and his Lt. Dan Band will perform Saturday, July 18, at Cantigny Park, 1S151 S Winfield Road, Wheaton, during the 10th annual Rockin’ For the Troops concert. The concert will raise money for Operation Support Our Troops-America.
The Lt. Dan Band will take the stage at 8:45 p.m. The park will open at noon, and tickets are $25, available online and at local Jewel-Osco stores. Tickets and a full schedule of events are available by going to www.osotamerica.org.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Sinise about the show.
Eric Schelkopf: Has Rockin’ For the Troops been more successful than you imagined?
Gary Sinise: It really provides a lot of funding for Operation Support Our Troops-America so that they can carry on their mission throughout the year. I’ve been proud to support them since the beginning.
Schelkopf: As far as the name of your band, Lt. Dan Band, was it just natural that you would name your band after your character Lt. Dan Taylor from the movie “Forrest Gump?”
Sinise: It was. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, I volunteered to go on tours with the USO. I would just go out [as]an actor. I just wanted to visit the troops and do something to show my appreciation and help them.
So, I started visiting the war zones and going to bases around the world. Eventually, I started taking musicians with me so I could put on a show, in the great tradition of Bob Hope and the USO shows of years past.
Because the troops were always calling me Lt. Dan when I was on these handshake tours, I just thought: “This is catchy. Let’s just call it Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, and maybe people would know who we are.”
Schelkopf: What should people expect from the show?
Sinise: Great music and high energy. It’s cover tunes, so we play songs everybody is going to like. We play contemporary, classic, pop rock, blues, country and swing. It’s kind of all over the map.
It’s just a very high-energy show, and a show with a good message. I try to talk with the audience, and let them know to keep our men and women in their thoughts and in their prayers, and to raise awareness for what they are doing.
This particular concert is all about raising funds for Operation Support Our Troops-America, and Rockin’ For the Troops is a great way to do that. We’re just going to hope for great weather, and make sure we give them a great show.
Schelkopf: You are from this area. I know that your freshman year, you went to Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn. Does it make it extra special in doing the show that you are from this area? Do you see familiar faces in the audience?
Sinise: Some of the same faces are right up front. They come early, and they get right up front. And I see some of the same people every year.
When they talked to me about doing the show in Wheaton, I thought it was great. I would be supporting the troops, helping out this organization and going back to a place where I grew up at the same time.
It’s really nice to visit, and come back every year to do this concert.
Schelkopf: I know that you are one of founding members of Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. Are you proud of what that theater company has accomplished?
Sinise: Oh, of course. It was 1974 that we got rolling, and that’s over 40 years ago.
We started out with absolutely nothing. We were just kids.
We now have an internationally recognized reputation. It’s really achieved so much beyond what we could have envisioned 40 years ago.