Big Whistle Music is a specialist whistle shop based in the Ribble Valley, England, run by Phil and Jill Brown. Phil is a veteran of the tin whistle and has been playing the instrument since he was a teenager. Affectionately known as “the whistle man”, Phil is an arts graduate and accomplished multi-instrumentalist. He was in great demand nationally as a workshop leader and enjoyed success as a recording artist.
Retirement is now in sight for Phil and Jill, but the future of their specialist whistle-based business is assured as they hand over the reins to a new team. David O'Hagan, Michael Sanderson and James Pannell are all folk music enthusiasts with a shared passion to take what Phil has built and continue it for the current and next generation of whistlers.
“David, James and Michael have the perfect partnership and balance of skills to take Big Whistle forward. Jill and I are confident its legacy will grow and will be able to cope with the future challenges that this much-loved specialist internet-based music retail business requires. David is an instrument maker, sound engineer and audiophile, with expert knowledge about the Irish whistle. James is an accomplished jazz guitarist with several years’ experience working in independent music shops. Michael is a music blogger, who specialises in websites.”
With encouragement from Pete Heywood and The Living Tradition, Phil created the Big Whistle Festival from an idea to produce a programme of events with the whistle at its core. The Met, in Bury and close to home for Phil, embraced the event and it enjoyed 14 glorious years until management changes at The Met brought that relationship to a close. Although having sold Big Whistle Music to its new owners in its entirety, Phil retains the rights to the festival and has not ruled out staging it elsewhere in the future.
Big Whistle Music, centred on a specialist shop together with a website presence, evolved naturally from this activity. It was formed 20 years ago and since then, Phil and Jill have built the business into a market leading specialist retailer of whistles of all types.
Key to this success was Phil’s relationships with a range of specialist makers. Phil credits much of his own passion for the whistle to one of his original makers, the late great Bernard Overton. Bernard was highly respected among all whistle makers and a network of makers from around the world quickly grew around Phil’s ‘Big Whistle’ brand and business. Support and sales blossomed, benefitting the business and the Big Whistle Festival. Although mainly interacting worldwide through a website, support from their customer base has been tremendous, many of whom return for specialist care and advice - the type that you can't get from Amazon!
Phil and Jill are keen to thank all their customers and makers. “Running the business for the past two decades has been a pleasure and wouldn't have been possible without them.”