John Mayer, Train among acts to play in Queen City

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Oftentimes, local concert-goers think of road trips to Atlanta or Columbia whenever major music artists hit the road.

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Crowd-favorite John Mayer will play in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday.   Special
Special
Crowd-favorite John Mayer will play in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday.

I have found that driving to enjoy a show in Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, is well worth your time, too. The Verizon Wireless "shed" and the Road Runner Mobile Amphitheatre in Charlotte are easily accessible off the interstate and, if so inclined, you can always cool off in the inviting and nearby cool Appalachians afterwards.

Traffic mishaps that always seem to plague any Atlanta concert venue aren't as much of a factor in Charlotte, either.

There are three fine bands playing in the next few days to the Queen City.

John Mayer and Train will visit Verizon Wireless on Friday. Although Mayer is coming off the critically panned disc Battle Studies , the Berklee grad blends his hits with the blues very well and is always a good draw. Add Cali pop-rockers Train, who are riding high again with their comeback album, Save Me San Francisco, and the unexpected hit single Hey, Soul Sister to the mix, and you have a very attractive pairing.

The Smashing Pumpkins are best known these days as "Billy Corgan and some various backing musicians." The enigmatic Corgan, (the only original member left) has dismantled one of the most successful bands of the 1990s into a vanity project that continues to baffle longtime fans. The group plays a standing-room-only show Friday at the Fillmore Auditorium, a smaller venue that recently hosted shows by Jordin Sparks and (yikes!) Adam Lambert. It's literally Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness these days for the Chicago rocker.

The third show is Govt. Mule, which will rock the Road Runner Mobile Amphitheatre on Sunday. You just have to love the Mule: They understand that high-priced tickets aren't the way to draw crowds. You can enjoy more than three hours of tight rock and jam for $19.50 to $27.50. The ultra-fine blues guitarist Jackie Greene opens.

Quick Notes

- Tickets for the Al Green's Sept. 25 concert as the concluding act of this year's Westobou festival at James Brown Arena are going quickly.

- Bad Company invades Atlanta's Chastain Park on July 25.

- The latest concert DVD from Rush, Beyond the Lighted Stage, has just been issued in stunning Blu-Ray.

- Sting's new disc, Symphonicities, is in stores this week. It contains orchestral versions of Police and solo favorites with strings attached. Haven't you always wanted to hear Roxanne with violins and cellos?


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