Dan Farrell was born in Cleveland Ohio, about as far away from the islands as one can imagine. Growing up in a blue-collar steel town during the economic depression of the mid 70’s, Farrell learned to play percussion first, then keyboards in High School. That love of music led him to major in it at Xavier University, until he transferred to the University of Akron.
There he met his true love, the Steel Drums. (He also met his wife there, but he met the drums first!) Akron had a steel drum program under the direction of Dr. Larry Snyder, and Farrell was instantly hooked. After graduation, he moved to South Florida where he formed and played with a small steel drum band, and also maintained full-time employment as a church organist and director of music.
When Farrell moved to Alabama to pursue his Masters Degree and accept another Church Director position, he assumed the lower Alabama climate would not be receptive to the steel drum. Fortunately, he was wrong! He formed a beginner band through his employer, St. Columba Catholic Church, that was free and open to all who expressed an interest. He supplied most all of the drums at first from his own personal collection and as players became more confident, some purchased their own drums. The group became known as Heaven’s Island and has been playing gigs at area churches and other non-profit events throughout the Wiregrass. Some of their favorite events have been the Family 4th Celebration, Wiregrass Festival of Murals, Downtown Christmas Celebration, Trinity Lutheran Church’s Chili Cook Off, and the Wiregrass Museum of Art.