For Patty, Melissa, Scotty, and Travis, it really is a family affair. This foursome stretches their biological connections through to their creative tissue as the Dysfunctional Family Jazz Band (DFJB), an incomparable collective with a Jazz/Americana/Soul/Folk sound that, by all reasonable accounts, functions quite nicely, thank you. As the history of their marvelous and complex family relationships comes out in their music, it is clear that this is a community, a truly relational organism. The way they work, the way they live, and the way they make music is an expression of family, through and through.
The high-functioning dysfunction began when Patty Carpenter and Scotty Shetler were high school sweethearts a billion years ago, and, in 1972, had a daughter, Melissa Shetler. Then they split, and Scotty married Jill Gross, a lead singer in the band he was playing with. Now, Jill sometimes sings with them both live and in the studio. Patty married Charles Light, who manages the band, and, in 1990, they had a son, Travis Light, who at 17 moved to New York City to live with his sister Melissa and her husband Alan McCarthy. True to his family roots he is now living in California attending Jazz School.
Yes, you are correct; this would be easier with flow charts and a laser pointer. The complexity, however, bears beauty for them, and the multi-faceted nature of their almost three generational family is expressed in their music. Patty composes and plays keyboards and sings. Melissa handles vocals and melodica. Scotty is a wind man on tenor sax, clarinet, baritone, penny whistle, and even mandolin. Twenty year old Travis lays down the bass. The wealth of talent in this gene pool is astonishing, and while they will admit that the inherent tension of working with family increases the drama, it also increases the reward.