Sinise's Lt. Dan Band rocks the Pentagon
Stars and Stripes May 18, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — The unmistakable opening guitar riff of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” echoed off of the walls in the Pentagon courtyard.
“Rocking at the Pentagon,” actor Gary Sinise shouted enthusiastically to a packed lunch-time crowd. “This is probably the second time ever 'Purple Haze' has been played here,” he laughed. The first time would be when Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band played at the Pentagon two years ago.
Sinise, widely known for his Lt. Dan character in the movie “Forrest Gump” and current role as Detective Mac Taylor on “CSI: NY,” is well-known to the military crowd for a different reason. He and his band completed five tours with the USO, and regularly play at military bases around the world. Friday’s show was in honor of Military Appreciation Month.
“It’s very important that you know we are grateful,” Sinise said between songs. “The sacrifice you and your families make — you are not forgotten.”
Sinise fronts the band and plays bass. He also co-founded Operation Iraqi Children, a non-profit which sends school supplies to Iraqi kids.
The band formed after Sinise and Kimo Williams, a Chicago-area composer who is now the band’s guitarist and vocalist, first worked together on a production of “Streetcar Named Desire.”
Williams, a Vietnam veteran, said he used to play his guitar whenever he could while at war.
“We’d take our M-16 and our guitars, and depending on what was happening, we’d pick up one of them,” Williams said.
Pentagon staffers and guests watched from windows, filled the seats and packed the grass around the stage.
During a jam session, Sinise played his wireless bass out among the crowd and sat in the seat next to Lance Corporal Jeremy Stengel, 22, from Wisconsin.
“That was cool, I was not expecting that,” said Stengel, who is doing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “He asked me how I was doing.”
Monica Langley, an IT manager for the public affairs office, wiped sweat from Sinise’s forehead as he strolled down her row.
“I’m a big fan, I love his movies,” she said. Langley also went onstage when the band invited women from the crowd up during “Lady Marmalade.” “I took advantage of every moment,” she said.