Swinging into summer...

The sun is high in the sky, the days are long and the time is right for barbecuing and beach days. Duchess loves summertime, and we kicked off the season last month with a tour in gorgeous Northern California.

Our tour began at the Jazz on the Plazz festival in Los Gatos (local impresario Michael Jacobi booked us to open the festival after catching our set last year at the Monterey Jazz Festival). We were immediately enchanted by Los Gatos' picturesque town square and charming shops. On our first night in town, we performed a short set for a small group of sponsors and board members.

The next day, we piled in the car and paid a visit to KCSM, where we talked and laughed on the air with hostess-with-the-mostess Alisa Clancy. Later that afternoon, Melissa and Hilary did an interview with Michael Jacobi on KCAT TV, chatting about early musical influences and the origins of Duchess. Unfortunately, Amy wasn't able to do the interview, as she was visiting a local ENT; she'd come down with a case of laryngitis. The timing couldn't have been worse, but Amy, in her signature fashion, persevered with calmness and humor (and, not incidentally, she sounded great, laryngitis notwithstanding!).

The festival officially opened that evening when we took the stage in the aforementioned town square, the "plazz" from which the Jazz on the Plazz festival takes its name. We had a fabulous crowd, a swinging band, and perfect weather. The next morning, we enjoyed massages and facials at a local spa (thank you, Jazz on the Plazz!) and thus rejuvenated, headed for Santa Cruz.

Scenes from beautiful Los Gatos! Top: Duchess and our wonderful pianist, Michael Cabe, at the opening night festivities. Middle left: Hilary smells the roses and Melissa crosses the street safely in scenic Los Gatos. Middle right: the gals strike a pose in front of the festival poster. Bottom left: a successful show! Bottom right: with the delightful Alisa Clancy at KCSM, post-interview.

Scenes from beautiful Los Gatos! Top: Duchess and our wonderful pianist, Michael Cabe, at the opening night festivities. Middle left: Hilary smells the roses and Melissa crosses the street safely in scenic Los Gatos. Middle right: the gals strike a pose in front of the festival poster. Bottom left: a successful show! Bottom right: with the delightful Alisa Clancy at KCSM, post-interview.

A short drive took us to Santa Cruz, where we spent the morning at the beach. We strolled the boardwalk and walked on the beach as the fog dissipated and gave way to blue skies and sunshine sparkling on the ocean. A rather intensely competitive round of pirate-themed miniature golf at Neptune's Kingdom followed, after which we made our way to our hotel.

The day was so lovely, we couldn't resist taking a dip in the hotel pool before heading to Kuumbwa, where we played to a full house of hip fans and incredibly warm, gracious staff (it's not every day that a venue brings artists a delicious fruit and cheese plate for sound check!).

A day at the beach in Santa Cruz, followed by a quick swim in the hotel pool. Work hard, play hard, we always say!

A day at the beach in Santa Cruz, followed by a quick swim in the hotel pool. Work hard, play hard, we always say!

Scenes from Kuumbwa. All performance photos by r.r. jones. (What do you suppose we're all so serious about in the bottom left photo?)

Scenes from Kuumbwa. All performance photos by r.r. jones. (What do you suppose we're all so serious about in the bottom left photo?)

Sausalito beckoned the next day, and we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in eager anticipation of our debut at Jazz & Blues by the Bay, a summer series put on by the city of Sausalito. We grabbed an early dinner of burgers and truffle fries (!!!), strolled down the town's main drag, and then performed to over a thousand enthusiastic listeners. We'd been warned about cool weather after sundown, but the temperature stayed balmy and we had a blast meeting lots of new fans after our show. The hero of the evening was our new friend Nathan, who not only loaned us his keyboard for the evening, but drove it to Sausalito himself, and hung out with us all evening. Thank you, Nathan!!!

Sausalito moments (clockwise from top)...a gorgeous bandstand; the California flag flying high over a fountain in the center of town; the gals with our hero Nathan (he brought us a keyboard to use in our show!); the iconic Golden Gate Bridge; our rock star selfie in front of the huge crowd!

Sausalito moments (clockwise from top)...a gorgeous bandstand; the California flag flying high over a fountain in the center of town; the gals with our hero Nathan (he brought us a keyboard to use in our show!); the iconic Golden Gate Bridge; our rock star selfie in front of the huge crowd!

We closed out our tour with a return visit to the Sound Room in Oakland. We had a free afternoon, so we parked the car in Jack London Square in Oakland and took the ferry over to San Francisco, where the farmers' market was in full swing. A couple of porchetta sandwiches and a few scoops of Humphrey Slocomb ice cream later, we were ready to take the stage!

A perfect day in sunny San Francisco and Oakland!

A perfect day in sunny San Francisco and Oakland!

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect start to our summer! We're indebted to our dear friend and pianist, Michael Cabe, as well as Bay Area-based John Wiitala (bass) and Greg Wyser-Pratte (drums) for making so much wonderful music with us. Our thanks go out, as well, to Andrew Gilbert, for helping spread the word about our gigs in beautiful Northern California.

We'd love to see you on July 9th, when we take the stage at the Triad for a night of #girlongirlharmony! We're shooting some video to promote a few different show concepts and, therefore, will be performing three shows in one: songs by iconic girl groups throughout history, some holiday favorites, and we'll tip our collective (proverbial) fedora to the Rat Pack, too!

It's summertime, and the livin' is easy...we wish you a season filled with sun, fun, lazy afternoons, and lots of laughs. We'll update you soon with details about our upcoming sophomore album, Laughing at Life!