Bill Hangley, Jr. is a songwriter from Philadelphia who began playing his guitar on the street almost as soon as he could play it at all.
Born in 1969 and raised around music and musicians, Hangley got serious about guitar as a teen after seeing a young Kurt Rosenwinkel blow away a talent show. In 1991, Hangley moved to what was then Czechoslovakia to start a career in journalism, spending his days working as a reporter and his nights playing music on Prague’s legendary Charles Bridge.
There, together with guitarist Jim Bozeman of Lake Charles, Louisiana and violinist Peter “Pope” Jordan of Warsaw, Poland, Hangley co-founded a country/blues band called the Lazy Pigs. The trio’s debut, “Prasata Na Hrad” (“Pigs in the Castle”), was released in 1993 on Podulka Records.
Prague at the time was a fertile crossroads. Hangley’s labelmates included well-regarded Americana songwriter Tim Easton, a Charles Bridge regular who recalls the squat-dwelling Pigs as “the soundtrack to a vagabond dream … as unwashed as they sounded.” The city’s lively street scene faded as the 90s wore on, but Hangley and the Pigs grew to become a fixture in the city’s pubs and clubs, eventually touring all over Central Europe.
At the turn of the new century, Hangley returned to the United States, where he established himself as a news reporter while continuing to write, record, and perform songs. His independent releases include “Black River” (2006), “Fifteen Years” (2012), and “What’s an American” (2022), recorded by Ernie Tokay at Little Spiders Studios in Phoenixville, Pa.
Hangley’s music reflects the fertile mix of rock, folk, country, jazz and blues that he grew up around in Philadelphia. As a guitarist, his influences include Pete Townshend, Paul Simon, Lightning Hopkins, Doc Watson, and Dr. Peter Temple of Tarboro, North Carolina. Rosenwinkel describes Hangley’s acoustic performances as an “addictive” mix of strum and groove. “I come back to the word ‘real,’” Rosenwinkel says. “A real touch, a true tone … Bill knows how to express his true self.”
As a songwriter, Hangley owes it all to the friends who played by his side on the Charles Bridge, including Jim Bozeman, Tony Rose, Sharla Benedict, Sean Condron, Claude Cahn, Dalton Stansbury, and Mark Mulholland. This was the musical community that shaped him, and their songs can be heard almost any time Hangley performs. “You can hear the authenticity, the lived experience,” says Rosenwinkel. “You can also hear the 10,000 hours jamming.”
Today Bill Hangley Jr. lives in Philadelphia with his wife Cheshire Agusta, drummer for the innovative metal trio Stinking Lizaveta. He pays the bills by writing and editing for national magazines and maintains his sanity with long bike rides. He can be found on Twitter @hangleyjr, on Instagram @hangleymusic, and on Bandcamp.