Michael Hurley getting ‘big band’ treatment for his 80th birthday

Country legend Michael Hurley turned 80 years old this year, and in true form he’ll mark the occasion with a bang. “We came to Nashville, and we felt we had something to offer, and it was really about communicating the great music we had,” Hurley tells FOX411 Country.

One year later, the revolutionary folk rock duo visited Orlando, Florida, to play a late-night show at Universal Studios and discovered that there was little overlap between them and the already-crowded city. “We got there, and I was puzzled as I was walking around with Will [kutcher], and I said, ‘What the hell are we doing here?’”

After a half-hour sit-down meeting with the park’s personnel, Hurley learned that John and Grace Stewart Thomas, the original Grand Ole Opry stars, performed at the park all the time.

“We got to listen to them play for a couple hours,” Hurley recalls, “and we went home feeling fantastic about it. We went to sleep, and I told Will that next time we went to Orlando, we would come back with a big band. We had an opportunity, and we acted on it.”

Hurley has continued his late-night tour, and he has cooked up a new outfit in the past 30 years, the Ben & Jerry’s band, and there are some surprises in store for his birthday party on January 4. “I don’t want to give the whole secret up. We’re not only going to turn the lights down, we’re going to turn out the lights on the stage,” he says. “It’s all part of this concept that we’ve created. You could start the party in the van, but don’t wait for it to begin. Go right in with the lights on and throw open the doors. Throw in the balloons and the streamers. Throw out a bill, and get going.”

But Hurley isn’t resting on his laurels. The band will give fans a taste of what’s to come during the arrival of Bostric, the 11th album in three decades. It features collaborations with Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Amos Lee, Gary Clark Jr., Suzanne Vega, Eric Lindell, Patty Griffin, Tamara Dobson, and more, and Hurley promises a number of big performances. “Some people have said, ‘I think you had the best time on this record.’ They haven’t heard it, so we won’t know until February when the record is out.”

You can catch an encore of Hurley’s late-night concerts at the Universal Studios Resort Orlando beginning Saturday, February 9. Bostric will be released February 12. Tickets are available through the park’s website.

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