After uncertainty over whether the Kontra Roots Club would take place this year because of the Coronavirus, it is back this weekend.

Kontra Roots Club returns this weekend to a new outdoor location to ensure the long-standing monthly showcase can continue throughout the summer.

Kontra has been a regular fixture on the county’s music scene since 2004, showcasing the best folk and roots music while supporting emerging acts.

Because of the impact the Coronavirus has had on the live music scene, it is still not viable for the majority of venues to open and host gigs.
Kontra has taken place at a number of venues over the years – most recently at the Earls Barton Working Men’s Club.

However, on Sunday, August 16, it is heading to the garden of Northampton’s Black Prince in Abington Square.

Promoter Kev Buxton said: “The move to The Black Prince came completely out of the blue.

“Having recently sent out a message to the Kontra mailing list to say it was unlikely we’d be putting on any more live music this year, due to Covid, Phil Moore at the venue got in touch to ask if I fancied putting a bill together for a garden concert there one Sunday this month.

“Given the enormous size of the garden, which allows for full social distancing, I could only say yes.

“It’s likely we’ll be doing another one in September too if all goes well, which will be great.”

On Sunday, Kontra will feature performances Matt Carter, The Campbells, Chris Conway, Elizabeth & Jameson and headliner Hazeyjane.

Hazeyjane’s album Anima Rising is out now and available via the band’s website and Facebook page.

The band was due to hold an album launch in April but this has now been postponed until June next year.

Kontra started in 2004, when Mr Buxton was invited to take over a struggling open mic at a pub in Little Harrowden.

He had recently moved to Northamptonshire from London and formed his own band – the Kontra band.

“Being a promoter wasn’t on the agenda at all,” Mr Buxton explains.

“But after a few not very successful months I developed some ideas about how these kind of events might be organised more effectively and started putting them into practice.

“Things just grew from there.”

“Kontra is dedicated to promoting the very best in roots and acoustic music for the Northamptonshire area.

“Its original purpose was to provide a top-quality platform, for talented up and coming young players on the scene and it continues to do this through Kontra Roots Club, which has always been our flagship event.

“Over the years, it has expanded to such an extent that we now present acts from across the folk roots spectrum, everyone from Fairport Convention to the promising lad down the street, at a wide range of venues.”

During the Coronavirus, Mr Buxton has been able to keep in touch with Kontra regulars through daily videos online featuring some of the acts who have played at the club night over the years.

Like many other venues and promoters, my Buxton had Kontra shows booked until the next of the year.

He said: “I do worry what the live music scene is going to be like when Covid is finally over, as it was struggling before the lockdown.”

Turning to some of his favourite Kontra moments, Mr Buxton said: “Fairport Convention were my favourite band when I was in my late teens, so it was a huge thrill to book them and then introduce them on stage at Kettering Arts Centre a few years ago.

“The same with a few other legendary acts I’ve been lucky enough to have play for us, like The Bonzos and The Pretty Things. It’s a great thrill.

“However, the most gratifying moments are when top class acts who played Kontra Roots Club in their early years return to us after they’ve made a name for themselves or fulfilled their potential- the great Luke Jackson springs to mind – and tell me they’re so grateful to have had a good regular venue to play when they were starting out so they could learn their craft.

“That always chuffs me to bits and makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Entry into The Black Prince is free. Music is from 3pm to 9pm.

For more information about the Kontra Roots Club, visit