Hard Hittin’ Bluegrass

Possum Creek Bluegrass Band alums Ben Chontos and Jones Smith founded the Folkstone Stringband as a way to continue providing hard driving and fast picking bluegrass, old time, Americana, and honky tonk music to eastern North Carolina and beyond.

As the core members, Ben and Jones have been pulling from a deep pool of talented North Carolina pickers to fill out the ranks as needed to suit each and every event, while providing the same top notch picking and singing that defined their tenure with Possum Creek. Frequently they can be found teaming up with banjoist Randy Hawse and fiddler Charlie Coulter. Catching them live is sure to get your foot tapping and bring a smile to your face.

Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Folkstone Stringband highlights traditional music which has been played for centuries and was made popular during the early to middle 20th century as recording was made more prolific. Pulling from styles made popular by such musicians as Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Charlie Poole, Don Reno and Red Smiley, and more, Folkstone Stringband continues to push the envelope to keep the tradition alive and thriving in the 21st century.

During their tenure with Possum Creek, Ben and Jones have performed thousands of shows for a wide range of events including weddings, corporate events, music festivals, and pig pickin’s. They were even featured in the 2014 Warner Brothers’ feature film “Tammy” starring Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. Hand-picked by Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone during a performance at the weekly Sunday night jam at the Satellite, Jones was approached and asked if the group would like to be a part of the movie. Naturally they jumped at the opportunity and together with friends and other members of Possum Creek, brought the same level of high energy and intensity that has come to define their shows. They recorded three songs which were used in the movie, two of which are featured on the soundtrack.

Ben and Jones have also been featured with friends on an audio recording used in the documentary “Broadcast: A Man and His Dream” about Ralph Epperson, the founder of the Mount Airy based old time and bluegrass radio station WPAQ.

They were also featured in video recording with Possum Creek carried on the Greenville, NC Public Access Channel during a live performance at the Fountain General Store.

Some of the numerous festivals that Ben and Jones have performed at include:

  • Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival
  • Beaufort County Traditional Music Festival
  • Fire on the Lakes Festival
  • Beaufort Music Festival
  • The annual Lighthouse Beer and Wine Festival in Wilmington

They have shared the stage with many highly acclaimed acts such as:

  • The Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Chatham County Line
  • The Hackensaw Boys
  • Langhorne Slim
  • Larry Keel with Natural Bridge


Ben Chontos

Vocals, Upright Bass, Guitar & Mandolin

Jones Smith

Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar & Harmony Vocals


“The guys from Folkstone Stringband have played at many of my customer appreciation cookouts. They provide us with reliable and fun entertainment, that my customers always request for future events. Folkstone Stringband will remain a valued addition to all of our corporate functions.”

-Michael Burnett, Managing Partner, ABC Company, Wilmington, NC

ABC Supply - Wilmington, NC
“Folkstone Stringband was a perfect fit for our wedding! They are a very fun and talented group of musicians and were just what we were looking for with our outdoor and barn wedding. They were easy to communicate with throughout the entire booking process and completely went with the flow on our wedding day. We had to move the dance party into the barn spontaneously when it rained and they had no problem grabbing their instruments and creating an awesome bluegrass jam session in the barn for us! All of the guys are very laid back and extremely talented, they are a wonderful addition to any party and they create a beautiful atmosphere with their music!”

-Jessie Baker Heim owner of Jessie Baker Photography

-Jessie Baker Heim owner of Jessie Baker Photography