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Where did it all begin? Underwater music…

“We enjoyed working with Peg, not only a musician/writer but a River person. It was a fun project to add her music to some of our local underwater pictures and videos that we took last summer. While looking at our videos Peg said that at first she thought of Silence as total quiet, absence of noise. To her it was a bit lonely feeling, these ships were forgotten until found and seemed to be saying "I'm here!!!! Don't forget me!!!!", Then it made sense that her song "Silence" captured the state of being forgotten or lost with their stories waiting to be told.”

Dennis McCarthy, Thousand Islands Area Scuba Divers

Where did it all begin?

I wasn’t old enough to hold a guitar, but my Uncle Tom both played professionally and gave lessons. All his sons had their own guitars. When we visited them, I’d sit for hours with a guitar on my lap as I wasn’t big enough to hold it the normal way. At nine, I got my first guitar. It was really a plastic toy and I learned to play a song, all by myself!

At ten, I had the real deal! A wooden guitar straight from Sears Roebuck! A book of chords came with it, and I studied and practiced for hours in my room every day until I mastered the chords and could play a couple of songs. I never dreamt of singing in front of anyone, so my efforts went vastly unrewarded for many years. Still a “closet” player, at sixteen I bought better-quality guitar.

That guitar stayed with me until I married my husband, Frank, in 1968. I was painfully shy so when home alone, I would play. One day our church asked for volunteers for the folk group. My husband, believing that the guitar was really just “something to dust” challenged me to join. I took up his challenge and within a few months I was asked to perform, solo, at a service.

A solo was not something I bargained for! The folk-group leader coaxed me into singing in front of the congregation and after the service, a young couple asked me to sing at their wedding. I agreed, but I insisted taking the folk group to the wedding with me for moral support. From that wedding, I was asked to sing at two more and on it went, by word of mouth, until I had a sizeable wedding-music business.

My husband and I ran the church’s youth center so I brought a new guitar to a meeting one night and ended up playing for hours with one of the young men. Eventually, we formed a party band.

As it was the early 70’s, the “Age of Aquarius”, we chose the name Sunshine, with the theme song  "Aquarius /Let The Sunshine In" (1969 by the Fifth Dimension). After five, very successful years. I decided to leave the group to pursue a solo career.

I have since been in blues bands, rock bands, played country, and spent two years at the Hochstein Music School in Rochester where I learned to read music. Then it was on to Monroe Community College for two years, receiving a degree, Associate in Science, Music Concentration. It was now the mid 1980s.

Music has always been the source of much joy for me and is truly a part of who I am. I also have a family that supported me in all my endeavors. My four daughters, all excellent singers, do weddings and have sung on some of my recordings.

I don’t think people realize how much work goes into playing and performing music. It takes a daily effort of practice and learning. I often make the analogy to sports. It’s the same mind/hand coordination that has to be practiced over and over to make it second nature. Music is also a language and can communicate emotions that sometimes cannot be expressed in conversation. It is a powerful tool, pulsing to our own heartbeats. Perhaps that is why it is so attractive to us. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like music. Tastes for styles and genres are different, of course, but its message is still the same. It takes us somewhere where we can feel our existence.

Now, I’m certainly in the “fall” of my career. Music has taken me many places and introduced me to many people. Recently, I have come to know Dennis and Kathi  McCarthy, of the Thousand Islands Area Scuba Divers, who asked me to help create a song for their video footage of the shipwrecks of the St. Lawrence.

Dennis first used my original song, “Ode to the St. Lawrence”, for footage he captured of the tall ship, Lynx which sailed into Clayton in June 2011.

This summer he used my song, “Silence,” in a video he made about Thousand- Islands shipwrecks. It is on display at the Thousand Islands Museum in Clayton until June 28.

It has been an honor to perform my work over the years - my goal is to help people have a good time and to try to touch their hearts. If I can accomplish that, there is no better reward!


The “Lynx” sailed into Clayton and the Thousand Islands in June of 2011.
Dennis McCarthy produced this video in September 2011.  He chose Peg Dolan’s music, “Ode to the St. Lawrence” to accompany photographs of the tall ship, Lynx, which sailed into Clayton in June of 2011. 
The video was produced by Dennis McCarthy and featured the song “Silence” written and performed by Peg Dolan.
This video was also produced by Dennis McCarthy to accompany a Shipwreck Display, mounted until the end of June a the Thousand Islands Museum in Clayton. 

Peg Dolan wrote the piece especially for the underwater photographs.

The video will also be shown during a special presentation called, Lost Fleet, at the Wellesley Nature Centre, Wellesley Island, Thursday, July 19th, 2012.

By Peg Dolan,

Peg Dolan, who spends her summers in Cape Vincent,  has several CDs to her credit: Home, The Missing Peace, Four Green Fields, Now and Then, and a just released virtual CD, which is available, by download only, from CD Baby and soon from and It is called “Peg Dolan’s Irish Pub Crawl.”

Her present Irish band “Wingin’ It” also released a new CD this past March called, “The Boys Won’t Leave the Girls Alone.” It is available at performances and at the Irish Import stores in Rochester, NY, Barry’s Old School Irish Pub and Hatter’s Pub in Rochester and Webster NY, respectively. Peg has also appears as a backup singer on CDs by Jeff Riales, and the Dady Brothers of Rochester.

Peg’s music will be available soon on all Touch Tone and AMI juke boxes all over the world! 80,000 of them, to be exact, so look for her songs in your favorite establishments with internet juke boxes from Touch Tones, or AMI.  Peg Dolan can be found in other area venues, all summer, singing on a patio, or in a pub. She will perform in Clayton’s Frink Park concert series on Thursday, July 5.

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Joan Russell
Comment by: Joan Russell ( )
Left at: 7:21 AM Saturday, June 16, 2012
It is a pleasure to read this story - a reminder that music-making is alive and well in families and communities and that these are places and spaces for learning traditions and skills.
Avril Faunce
Comment by: Avril Faunce ( )
Left at: 1:28 AM Saturday, June 30, 2012
Peg is a special lady................I first heard her sing , I believe it was over 30years ago,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and I haven't stopped listening to her yet. She has been through several changes in music and out performs herself each it her all. She can make one laugh with her musis and move your soul so much from a song, one ends up crying tears of joy!! What a talent!!! We even get to enjoy her singing down here in Florida where she spends her Winter months. She has an amazing love for 'her river' and it's history.............It's her favorite place in the whole world. Her SILENCE song is so beautiful.................each time i hear it , I am moved to tears by the beauty of her voice. I am proud to be a friend to this woman....................Keep on singing many more need to hear you sing.