Actor Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band Perform at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore

Jul 5, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Movies, Music, Steven Sanchez

by Steven Sanchez

It’s been approximately thirty years since the actor Gary Sinise portrayed the character that he’d be most renowned for: Lt. Dan Taylor in the Best Picture winner of 1994, Forrest Gump. In the movie he portrayed a platoon leader in the U.S. Army, and decades removed from the role, he’s still finding ways to associate himself with the military. In 2003, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he decided to form a cover band so he can perform USO shows for the troops while raising money for disabled veterans. After twenty years, they’re still going strong. By their estimation, they have done well over 400 shows for the troops. Their next stop … Lemoore.

Gary Sinise on stage in Lemoore

On Saturday, June 17, the Best Supporting Actor nominee brought his band to the Naval Air Station in Lemoore to entertain the soldiers and their families. Surprisingly, with all the shows he’s done, this was his first time in Lemoore. “I’ve been to a lot of bases over the years and this one I have yet to get to but I wanted to get to,” says Gary. “We had some other concerts set up and juggled different things and some of those fell off and I thought this would be a good time to be here. We had a date available and I made the call and now we’re here.”

He’s a man of many talents. He has graced the big screen in various roles, the small screen as Detective Mac Taylor on CSI: NY, and on stage with numerous awards and accolades along with having a musical past. He’s been able to combine his talent with a cause that is near and dear to him. “I’ve played music ever since I was a kid. I got very busy with acting and started a theatre company when I was younger. Didn’t play for a long time. Picked it up again twenty-five years ago and never thought I’d play like in the way I am now,” mentions Gary. “After 9/11 and having been involved with supporting the military prior to that and getting involved in helping disabled veterans, I found that music was a way I could do something positive, lift spirits, and raise awareness and funds, so I started this band, and we’ve done over 500 shows and doing as many bases as we can.”

Gary also founded the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 with the goal to help veterans, and this band is a program of it. They have raised $300 million for wounded veterans, first responders, and their families. The mission is to entertain them and boost morale while raising money for them, and seeing the crowd’s reaction to Gary and his band, I felt they did just that. He’s endowed veterans with benefits, but there’s been some perks he’s received from visiting so many bases in his lifetime. He’s been able to fly in some pretty cool planes along with interacting with different branches of the military and creating a lot of memories in the process, and for someone who has family members who served and who’s an advocate for them, to get first hand access to who they are and what they do strengthens his passion to speak on their behalf.

The crowd in Lemoore was excited to see him play. It’s not every day that you can say that you saw a renowned actor playing classic tunes on a military base in the Central Valley. Much appreciation to the public affairs officer, Jessica Nilsson, and the Gary Sinise Foundation for facilitating our coverage. I was informed that not only has some one of his caliber ever performed at the base, but that this is the first time that they’ve put on an event of this magnitude. They played classics and contemporary hits. He had himself a really good, eclectic band. Gary was front and center rocking the bass.

The songs that stood out was Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” “Smooth” from Carlos Santana featuring Rob Thomas, and Gloria Estefan’s “Conga.” The one I thoroughly enjoyed because I really like the song was “Love Song” from Sara Bareilles. Singer, Gina Gonzalez did a great job belting out the song. Singer Jeff Vezain stood under the spotlight center stage, and going by his performance, I must say he’s a great vocalist.

It was a really well put together band and an entertaining show. It was more pleasurable to see the reactions of the veterans and their families who were having a great time. They were camped out with their lawn chairs, some even stood in front of the stage to be close to the band and dancing to the music. There were food trucks providing a delicious variety. With everything that the veterans go through, what they do to protect us and fight for our freedom, and the acclimation process they face when they try to adapt to civilian life, what they do should never go unnoticed. With Gary providing this type of service for them, it’s very well needed. They’ve been entertaining the troops for twenty years, and let’s hope they continue to do that for more years in the future.

Lt. Dan Band
Gary Sinise – bass
Jeff Vezain – vocals/acoustic guitar
Ernie Denov – electric guitar
Ben Lewis – keyboards
Karl Montzka – piano/keyboard
Molly Callinan – vocals
Danny Gottlieb – drums
Gina Gonzalez – guitar, vocals
Harry Watters – trombone
Kirk Garrison – trumpet
Beth Gottlieb – drums
Mitch Paliga – saxophone
Julie Dutchak – vocals
Dan Myers – vocals/violin
Mari Anne Jayme – vocals

If you want to make a donation to the Gary Sinise Foundation, go to their website:

Steven Sanchez is a film graduate of UNLV. He’s a filmmaker, writer, photographer, and music manager. Obsessed with movies, comic books, and rock ‘n’ roll. A football fanatic, big fan of the Oakland Raiders. Enjoys reading and collecting vinyl records. If there’s a rock show in town more than likely he’ll be there. Loves his grandma’s home cooked meals. He has a twin sister and most people call him the pretty one. You can learn more about Steven on his YouTube channel and on Instagram @stevensanchez5807 photos and videos.


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