Bluesman Charges Up Philly Fans

Killer blues and soul singer, songwriter and harmonica wailer John Nemeth  had this music lover from the first notes of his first set last night at 2nd Street’s Twisted Tail  Bourbon House and Juke Joint. Then he won my gizmo lovin’ heart, too, when he pulled out a portable credit card processing machine mid-set and launched into the grooviest product pitch song I ever heard - “Get Your CD.”

 Every musical artist carries “merch” on tour with them these days. Usually the CDs and T-shirts get hawked at a table in the lobby or club alcove.  That requires an extra warm body, tending to the goods.  And if you want a disc signed, you gotta hang around for 15 minutes or longer after the show, for the artist to show up.

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"And we take credit cards!"

Nemeth has come up with the ultimate in  direct response advertising – and he’s “frankly surprised nobody has copied me.”  He doesn’t just announce “I have albums available in the lobby, and I’ll be signing them after the show.” He launches into that groovy “Get Your CD” chant and  pitch as part of the performance   – pushing his latest, multi-blues award nominated   “Blues Live” and “Soul Live” concert albums  and inviting you to come right down and nab  ‘em.  In the process, he’s bringing the audience into the act,  boogalooing to the stage  and  testifying to  their admiration for his work.

“Don’t have cash? I take credit cards, too,” he added from the stage, waving a portable credit card terminal from  TransFirst. The wireless gizmo can get your  charge on and approved  in just a few seconds, since the transactions are usually a modest $20  (his “two for one” CD special.) “And if you run into hard times, you can always sell these  CDs,” he told the crowd, after a fan shouted out “aren’t these albums on iTunes?”  They are, he confirmed, but “try and sell an MP3 – it’s worthless.”

The blues man first dreamed up this stunt for festival gigs, where it’s hard to keep the audience around after your show. 'They’re running off to another stage, another band. If we’re going over well, I can make as much as two grand in a very short time.”

Nemeth testifies that the TransFirst terminal is “much better than the dinky credit card swipers” (Square) “you can get for an iPhone.” This one’s a sturdy piece of dedicated electronics with its own wireless connectivity that costs him “$35 a month to use, plus a 1.75 percent fee on the purchases. That’s lower than most merchants pay with in-store terminals.”