King Bee & The Stingers – Don’t Move So Fast | Album Review

King Bee & The Stingers – Don’t Move So Fast

Self- Release – 2023

12 tracks, 51 minutes

Mark Menefee was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Over the years, he taught himself to play the guitar and harmonica. In 2006, he formed King Bee & The Stingers where he also became the lead vocalist. That band like so many others went through many configurations. However, the biggest change came when his daughter, Sarah, joined the band as a back-up vocalist and eventually sharing leads with her father. Sarah has been singing since age 2, when she and her twin sister was given a karaoke machine for Christmas.  Sarah was a four-year vocalist in the Indiana University’s award-winning Singing Hoosiers. She followed that with performances in other bands before joining the King Bees.

That configuration of the band represented the Kentuckiana Blues Society (KBS) at the International Blues Challenge and was a semi-finalist in 2018 and 2019. The group released their first album Meet Me In Memphis prior to the 2019 IBC.

After 13 years in the band, Mark decided to retire to just managing the band leaving the band leadership to his daughter. A new formation of the band began in 2019 first with the addition of Jeff Shew on bass.  Jeff was mentored by Pinetop Perkins and got to play in Pinetop’s band for several years while living in Laporte, Indiana. Jeff with his band partner Mark Carnes had also represented the KBS at the 2020 IBC as their solo/duo performers and became semi-finalists. Mark, an accomplished harmonica player followed Jeff into the King Bees in 2020. Paul Karaffa started as a part-time drummer for the King Bees in 2006 and joined the band full time in 2019. Classically trained Wes Schrimsher is a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music and lived and performed in New York for three years prior to joining the King Bees in 2021. The current group was completed in 2022 when Matt Boat joined the group as their guitarist. Matt also a graduate of Indiana University brings years of experience playing in other bands. The band members have all come together in Bloomington, Indiana as their home base.

In 2022 the new King Bee & The Stingers again competed in the KBS Challenge and became their representative at the 2023 IBC, where they again became semi-finalists. This current recording was released immediately prior to that event. Sarah was also invited to perform in the IBC’s National Women in Blues Showcase. Sony Music The Orchard has picked up one song from the album, “Contrary to the Word” and has given it a national release on many platforms.

The album consists of eleven original songs and one cover. Six of the eleven songs were co-written by Sarah and Jeff. Two more were written by Jeff and the remainder by the other band members.

The album opens with Mark’s crying harmonica lead as Sarah powerful and emotional vocals advises her lover “Don’t Move So Fast”. The cover photo of the album clearly depicts the result of his push. She next asks, “Where Were You?“…when I needed you” on a soft blues number.

“Turn The Chickens Loose” opens with a little chicken cluck and an invitation to a party in a solid blues rock number citing “Red Beans, cornbread, barbeque on the grill, zydeco on the jukebox and the neighbors cannot stand still”.  Matt’s guitar rings out as Sarah noted that “Grandma kept the chickens in the coop but they danced around the yard when she turned the chickens loose”.

“Contrary To the Word” states that “I rock, you roll …but when we get together…I want to spend my life with you”. and is guaranteed to get you moving in a solid rock beat.

A few horns are added to the mix on a rocking “Get it While You Can” as she notes that “A little bit of liquor does it every time.” and “Tomorrow doesn’t matter.”

Wes’ organ introduces a slow blues as Sarah offers a plaintive moan on “(Won’t Be The) Death of Me” and Mark’s harmonica wails behind her. Next Sarah requests the bartender to pour some “Four Roses” and seeks a partner to dance. The sole cover, a funky soulful transformation of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” follows.

Sarah discusses that she “Once Had a Man” that was no-good on another slow blues. A jumping “Homewrecker” describes a woman with “legs all the way up to her neck” and that “can raise the temperature five or six degrees”. “Left Out in the Cold” is a slow soulful cry as “You end up leaving me – again”. The album concludes with “Break That Spell” as she says “goodbye baby” with some nice slide guitar work accompanying.

Strong songwriting throughout with Sarah’s masterful, clear vocals, superb instrumentals mixing the lead between harmonica, guitar and keyboards, and solid rhythm backup make this a winning album and one well worth your listen.

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