the Empty Streets


Salem, 1966-7

The Empty Streets were formed by former Edgewood Five members John Vail and Larry Siddle. The new band dropped the E5's British Invasion core for a west-coast folk-rock sound in the style of the Byrds, early Turtles, and Jefferson Airplane. To complete the group Ian Robinson (formerly of the Markees) joined as the drummer, Mark Riffle as bass, and Mike Riffle on keyboards, doing double duty at the age of 14 with the Sound Barrier and the Empty Streets. The group got their name through a Simon and Garfunkel lyric suggested by Ian Robinson.

The Empty Streets did not play as often as the Edgewood Five, only the occasional gig in town. They did do something that the E5 had not - recorded and pressed a 45.

Around June of '67 the group recorded a couple of John Vail's songs at John Golden's garage attic studio. The session was 'fueled' by some Colt 45 and the basic tracks were completed, with an overdub guitar (a '56 Fender Strat) by John Vail and a Glockenspiel part by Mike Riffle. The group took the tapes to Gateway in Pittsburgh where the final mixing and pressing took place. The group decided to 'produce' "I'm not Gonna Worry About You" so that side included the vocal and guitar overdubs (with reverb) onto the 'dry' recording. "You can Make It" was left with a 'dry' sound, no overdubs. 1000 copies of the 45 were pressed and distributed around, many for free, and "Worry" got some airplay on a couple stations. The group took the 45 to the producers of Cleveland's Big Five show but were told they couldn't get an appearance without a deal with a 'real' record company.

The Empty Streets were closed up in the fall of '67. Most of the members, including John Vail and Mike Riffle continued in bands.