Bass player Leanne Bowes has spent this summer doing what many musicians could only dream of: Opening for rock legend Cyndi Lauper.

Bowes, a longime New Milford resident, has been on tour with the alternative rock band, Hunter Valentine, as an opening act for Lauper's "She's So Unusual" tour.

The tour started in early June in San Diego, made its way through the southwest, into New Orleans and Atlanta, and finished by traveling north along the East Coast.

"It's great. The crowds have been very warm to us," said Bowes, daughter of the late Richard Bowes, known locally for his years with the popular Jerry Gerst Band. "They're older crowds but receptive of our music, which is heavier indie pop tunes than rock 'n' roll.

"I was shocked the first time I watched Cyndi Lauper's performance. Her voice is just as good as it was on her first album -- if not better."

Bowes has been playing with Hunter Valentine since March.

The 2007 New Milford High School graduate traveled from her home in Boston to audition for the band in New York City and was a member a week later, playing at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas.

"Joining Hunter Valentine has been the biggest music experience in my life," said Bowes, 24. "We played with (Canadian rock band) Sum 41 before the Cyndi Lauper tour."

Hunter Valentine is a four-girl group.

Formed in 2004 in Toronto by Kiyomi McClosky and Laura Petracca, the band now also includes Bowes and Amie Bessada.

Playing musical instruments comes naturally for Bowes. She started playing bass guitar at age 12 when "my dad handed me a bass and I never put it down," she said.

"I'm not a writer of music, but I love learning other people's music. I challenge myself to be flawless in a very short time frame," Bowes said. "There was one song I learned recently that I was on stage playing an hour later."

At age 14, Bowes was playing on the Village Green in New Milford during Village Fair Days with her father.

She studied dance, voice and theater at the Connecticut Conservatory and performed with New Milford High School's jazz band and marching band.

"Leanne's father was a drummer in our band," said Corky Ballard. "I remember him bringing her to a couple of gigs and asking if she could play. She was great already. She has a lot of natural talent."

Bowes has music degrees from Emerson College in Boston. While attending college, she played in the band Tony Bear. That group played in New Milford in 2011 at The 1st & 10 sports bar in a tribute to her father.

"I'm so proud of her," said her mother, Wendy Bowes. "As a child, she'd pick up and play every instrument her dad had around the house. He knew she'd go places with her music. She has a drive unlike anything you've ever seen."

What does the future hold?

"It seems like things are just going to get better for me," Bowes said. "It's going to be hard going back to the van after traveling in this tour bus. But hopefully there's more tour buses in my future."

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322