King Bee & The Stingers
King Bee & The Stingers
King Bee & The Stingers is a six-piece blues, soul and funk band from Bloomington, Indiana. The group works with Indie Ink Management and publicist Marlene Palumbo. Several KBS singles have been distributed by Sony Orchard and are being played on hundreds of radio stations across the world, including singles from KBS’s second album, “Don’t Move So Fast”, which was completed in early 2023.
King Bee & The Stingers formed in 2006 under the leadership of harmonica player and vocalist Mark "King Bee" Menefee. The band attracted a strong following across Indiana and the Midwest, playing classic, gritty roadhouse blues. In 2015, Mark's daughter Sarah Menefee took over as lead vocalist and has been a rising star ever since. King Bee & The Stingers are 2018, 2019, and 2023 semifinalists in The Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.
After playing with the band as a fill-in drummer, Paul Karaffa joined full-time in 2019. In late 2019, bassist Jeff Shew joined the group. He had already worked with band, having written "You're All I Need," the opening track on the band's debut album, "Meet Me In Memphis." The band started writing more original music as it also added more soul, funk and pop to an extensive blues catalog. In 2020, Mark Menefee became the band manager, ceding harmonica duties to veteran harp player Mark Carnes. Keyboardist Wes Schrimsher joined in 2021, and guitarist Matt Boat joined in 2022.
Jeff Shew was inundated with blues music at an early age while growing up in and around Chicago. He was fortunate to be mentored by the legendary Pinetop Perkins, and got to play with Pinetop for several years while living in Laporte, Indiana. He moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 2003 to study music and ethnomusicology at Indiana University. A jack of all trades, he sings, plays bass, saxophone and guitar, and on top of that is a seasoned songwriter, arranger and producer. Before joining King Bee & The Stingers, Jeff played with Metal in the Microwave, Bottom Road Blues Band, The Movin' Hips, Carnes and Shew, as well as many other bands and projects. His many accolades include participating in the International Blues Challenge in 2015, 2016, 2020 and 2023. Jeff runs his own music firm called The Whirlwind Agency, and is the leader of the Bloomington Blues Group and runs the Bloomington, Indiana Blues Jam.
Matt Boat has been enamored with blues music since being introduced to The Allman Brothers Band "At Fillmore East" at an early age. Transfixed and inspired by the album's incendiary guitar playing, emotive singing and genre-bending arrangements, Matt fell in love with blues music in all its forms and started devouring the catalogs of blues greats such as BB King, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, amongst countless others. Matt began playing guitar at 13 and was soon spending hours playing along to his favorite records, trying in earnest to recreate the sounds and tones of those blue icons. After graduating from Indiana University, Matt played in a variety of bands in the Bloomington and Indianapolis areas, refining his guitar playing skills and approach to making music. When not playing guitar, Matt enjoys hanging out traveling with his wife and dog, watching basketball, eating good food and drinking good beer.
Mark "King Bee" Menefee comes from St. Louis, Missouri. He picked up the guitar as a teenager, learning licks to Elizabeth Cotton's "Freight Train" from his father. After years of refining his guitar playing skills on jazz and folk tunes, Mark found the blues and a love for the harmonica. He founded King Bee & The Stingers in 2006 and is proud to have played with the band three times at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, IN, including an IBC semifinalist slots in 2018 and 2019. After 13 years as the lead vocalist in the band he decided to pass the role on to his daughter and focus full time on managing and booking the band, but you can still catch him onstage from time to time.
Paul Karaffa was born and raised in Bloomington, IN. He started playing drums at the age 11. He has been playing drums and singing backup vocals with bands from the age of 12 onward. He has studied percussion under Mark Plati, Wilbur England, Paul Mueller, Shaun Pelton, and Kenny Aronoff. Throughout his musical career, Paul has played with notable Bloomington bands, including Film at 11, National Groove/Mr. Gone, The Why Store, Below Zero Blues Band, and international recording artists, El Nino. He has also sat in with many great music legends such as Booker T. Jones, Todd Rundgren, Guitar Shorty, and Big Bill Morganfield. He currently performs with Built for Comfort, The Counterfeiters, Bloomington legends The Dynamics, and King Bee & The Stingers. He enjoys hiking, biking, walking his dog, beer, and his two boys.
Brown County native Wes Schrimsher trained in piano and saxophone at the Indiana University Music Clinic and Jacobs School of Music throughout high school. Having studied under David Baker and Tom Walsh at Indiana University, Wes launched his music career performing in jazz events hosted by Monika Herzig at Café Django. After high school he attended Berklee College of Music, and lived and performed in New York City for three years. Although classically trained, Wes embraces his stylistic side, playing jazz, R&B and Neo-Soul styles, as he continues to explore and create within the contemporary blues genre.
Sarah Menefee took over lead vocals in the band for her father, Mark "King Bee" Menefee, in 2015. Boston-born and Bloomington-raised, she discovered her love for music at age 2, when she and her twin sister got a karaoke machine for Christmas. A graduate from Indiana University, Sarah has been a member of two award-winning show choirs including a four year stint as a member of Indiana University's Singing Hoosiers. She was a lead singer for the band, Rite of Spring, and is a performer with the Ooolites, an ensemble created by composer Malcolm Dalglish. With Sarah at the front, King Bee and the Stingers went all the way to semifinals at the 2018, 2019 and 2023 International Blues Challenges in Memphis, TN. Recently, Jeff Shew and Sarah have written many songs for the band. Sarah is working on her own brand songwriting, as a vocalist, lyricist and guitarist.
Mark Carnes plays harmonica, and is the official band shaman. Playing harp in numerous bands over the past 40 years, he is also a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist. Since retiring as a union electrician, he has been mostly focusing on music performance, blues jams and festivals. While playing with a variety of acts around Nashville, Indy and Bloomington, Mark kept crossing paths with King Bee and The Stingers. The opportunity presented itself for Mark to join the band, and he's been a perfect fit ever since.