Fearless began as a recording session arranged by drummer Davis Douglas in the Spring of 1989, when he and Ry Welch were Seniors at South Lakes High School and South Lakes graduate, guitarist Scott Denett, was a freshman at William Paterson University, home of the country’s top Jazz program. Davis and Ry had been playing together since Junior year, and were also together as members of the high school jazz band along with their band’s guitarist, Josh Goldman. Scott Denett had previously led the South Lakes High Jazz Band to numerous National Awards as a jazz guitar prodigy, and had begun studying privately with his hero, guitar legend Pat Martino.
After the recording session, which Davis had arranged as a college application submission (which was successful), the three formed the Fearless Jazz Trio, and began recording engineered sessions in Ry’s basement, with Ry on stand-up bass. They began by playing mostly jazz standards, yet interpreted in a very contemporary style, incorporating modern rock has well as more traditional funk and fusion. That summer after Ry and Davis’s graduation and with Scott in town for the Summer, the three rehearsed and recorded constantly, and performed at various DC-area clubs. The subsequent two summers, before all three had permanently relocated, the trio would also record and perform.
In January of 1996, at the behest of Scott Denett, Fearless reunited for a weekend to record an album they would entitle “Crystal Clear Mistake”; Ry recounts it this way:
Crystal Clear Mistake ~ (Fearless and Loathed in Virginia)
Fearless had last played summer of '91 in bumfuck Warrenton, VA for a dinner crowd. The manager of the place had to give half the people their money back because we were so loud - yet he paid us extra (with the understanding we would never call again). We ended the set with a stringbreaking free jazz medley of every rock tune we could think of from "Stairway to Heaven" to "Can't Touch This". I was wearing my new boots and kept tripping back into my hodgepodge stack of cheapshit amps. I looked like a jackass. That wasn't the only gig we did in Warrenton that summer. There was another where the only people who came in were two muddy rednecks that were jazzlovers and insisted on sitting on the stage with us (oh yeah and my mother was there too but she left). One cat sat down next to Flavius behind the kit and the other dead center of the stage facing us. We got paid extra there too 'cause the owner felt so sorry for our ass. We were so loud anytime customers came to the door they'd stick in their head and then turn around and split.
That summer we spent a weekend fitshaced around the pool and recording our first album-oriented project called "Rapidly Approaching Zen" live to four track. We did that session cold (after a year of not playing together) and were so shocked at how great it came out that we began thinking about doing it again under any circumstances.
In '95 I lived in yuppie deadhead helltown Charlottesville, VA trying to get by working in a record store and playing in a frat band that didn't play any Phish tunes. The leader of the group had borrowed one of the Dave Matthews Band's DA-88s to do some recording in his house and so finally Fearless had a way to make a cheap digital multitrack recording. We booked January 10th to track the whole record.
Blizzard of '96 hit the night of January 6th. I had to lie to Flavius and tell him the roads were fine to get him to drive up from Tampa, and meanwhile Spinich was in New York calling Amtrak every fifteen minutes trying to get through.
Flavius arrived on Thursday night (the session was coming up Saturday) and we got really drunk and watched a Sabbath video my parolee housemate rented, and a Buddy Rich video Flavius brought with him. We were up all night smashed, and thinking Spinich wasn't going to make it, and were pretty much planning on staying that way all weekend. The next morning Spinich called to say he got a ticket. The story goes like this:
About a month or so prior Spinich had spent the weekend at (jazz guitar guru) Pat Martino's place in Philly, and Pat was watching this cheezy B-movie called "Warlock II" and Pat says to him "here, check this out - the special effects are excellent." So in the midst of trying to get a train ticket in a blizzard Spinich falls asleep in front of the TV (probably drunk) that Thursday night and wakes up at 3 AM, and on the tube is "Warlock II". Taking it as a sign from beyond he grabs the phone and calls Amtrak, and picks up someone's cancellation from moments before.
Still hungover Friday night at nine me and Flavius went to pick up Spinich at the Charlottesville train station in the snowslushandmuck; he stumbled off the train all redeyed and twisted. Not only did he find the bar car, but also the weed and blow cars (must have opted for Musician Class Service). He also fell madly in love with some chick from Louisiana and wouldn't shut the fuck up about it all weekend. We got stoned in the parking lot and went to this bar called Miller's where Jamal (former bandmate and CCM engineer) had a gig with this cat I used to play with who is a djembe player with a dead serious attitude. It was a really mellow scene that night, all smalltalk and Guinness, until Spinich (still pretty fucked up) sat in with the two of them. Spinich starts beating the hell out of his guitar through this old Danelectro amp I brought down there, all distorted and loud, playing over-the-top be-bop shit and getting in the percussionists face to get him to play more aggressive, and I could swear the cat was about to coldcock Spinich right in the jaw. Me and Flavius and Jamal were laughing our asses off, while the rest of the bar broke out in an annoyed mumbling. Spinich tore it up, but the only people applauding when he left the bandstand were me and Flavius. The percussionist goes into a sermon every time I mention "that guitar player from New York."
We stayed up most of the night drinking so we could be fresh for the session the next day. In the morning we set up in Jamal's living room, with him upstairs in the bedroom at the console and me and Spinich downstairs with Flavius and his drums and our headphones, and the guitar amp up in the bathroom across the hall from Jamal. We had a Mackie 1604, the 8- track digital tape machine, a couple microphones, a compressor or two, some effects units, four hangovers, a case of Budweiser, barely enough weed, no prepared material and about six hours to cut a record.
-ROCK STARDOM 10-21-97
In the Fall of 1996, Ry joined Scott in New York City, followed by Davis relocating to the area in 1998; Fearless soon began work on their next album, the EP Panic Immediately!. This time, having the opportunity to write and rehearse, the group collaborated on original pop/punk songs, while also recording voluminous amounts of improvisations, some of which were morphed into album tracks. The result was yet another unique and punk/avante-garde rooted creative explosion showing the breadth of the group’s abilities and an approach true to their band’s name. After significant production and post-production work, Panic Immediately! was finally released in 2004.
A number of gigs were performed in NYC during the period of 1998-2001, and Scott directed and produced three music videos for Fearless in his frenetic and highly aggressive psychedelic style. After Ry moved to Austin in the Spring of 2001, Fearless did not record or perform together again. Scott Dennett joined Ry to be featured on a scene for his score to Wonder Woman XXX: A Porn Parody (CC Productions, 2012), and passed away in Florida in 2020 at the age of 51. Davis Douglas currently resides in New York.