Smoking Gun Showdown making singing dreams a reality

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Pictured above are the members of Smoking Gun Showdown. In the picture below, Leigh Vorwald (left) is shown performing with fellow lead singer April Bouzek. (Photos by KG Photography)

By Rachel Mergen


The union of Leigh Vorwald and April Bouzek into one duo was a unique decision. After competing against each other for years in singing competitions, the two powerhouse vocalists realized there was only one perfect answer: they had to join forces to be a band that could get everyone on their feet dancing. In 2015, the Prairie du Chien area women did so, with the help of musicians David Borys, Jeff Goettel, Jeff Gaunitz and Jeff Hanson. Together, they became Smoking Gun Showdown. 

Bouzek started her love of singing at 3-years-old, performing on many telethons in her youth and simply growing her career from there. Her family embraced her singing skills, often watching her belt out tunes in the living room.

For Vorwald, her singing dream started when she watched her grandmother play the piano in church. Her grandmother's talents were the inspiration she needed to follow her dreams as a singer. 

Today, these inspiring women are more like sisters than they are performing partners. Bouzek, a gymnastics coach, is the wild child in the pair, while Vorwald, an insurance agent, is the motherly person, always ready to have her friend's back when necessary. 

For the musicians, who are key to the success of the band just as much as the women are, Borys is on the drums, Goettel covers bass, Gaunitz plays the guitar, keyboards and harmonica and Hanson jams out on lead guitar. The men contribute vocals as well. 

With the help of their band, Bouzek and Vorwald create original songs where they “attempt to keep it appealing and play the role of storytellers of fictional stories,” according to Bouzek.

Along with their originals, which they hope to release on an album in the future, the band also covers a great variety songs, both older tracks and modern hits that are charting at the moment. Bouzek noted that they sing everything, from blues to rock.

The entire band attempts to meet once a week to practice, but recently it seems to involve more performing time than there is practice time. Recently, the band rocked the Stump Dodger Bash stage in Gays Mills. Vorwald said the event was “inspiring,” especially when they had a huge meet-and-greet event with over 100 people, thanking the community for always coming out to support them at events. 

During their concerts, which have included opening for many popular acts like those that accompanied them at the bash, Vorwald stated their focus is “just about the people and places” and on “having high energy and making people become involved while performing.”

Many venues are included in their past and present, including Cedar Rapids, Winona, Dubuque and La Crosse, but they will travel to wherever people request them to perform.

The band also enjoys performing at local establishments and are known for their ability to pack them with people from wall to wall. 

Community events are popular places to find Smoking Gun Showdown, like after the American Legion Post 68 Fish Fry Fundraiser and baseball games on July 7. 

Vorwald noted, “It’s really hard to balance personal life and the band.” The women are doing their best though, as they both have young children that need their love and attention. 

In the future, they hope to become experts with the balance of family, work and music. 

The ladies hope to “do larger events,” Vorwald added. They are looking into possibly doing some recordings in the future, creating merchandise and doing some work in Nashville, while continuing to move toward even more success in following their dreams. 

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