ER: I met you, and heard your music for the first time, last week on Train’s “Sail Across the Sun” music cruise. We’ve been back on land for about 48 hours — how are your sea legs holding up?
JM: The cruise was an absolute blast! Not to mention, a dream come true on so many levels. I will say, it took a few days before the ground stopped feeling like it was still moving under my feet.
ER: How did you get invited to perform on the cruise? Is it your first time doing a gig on a boat?
JM: I had the great fortune of crossing paths with Pat Monahan, Train’s legendary lead singer, a few years ago, and he has been an unbelievable friend and champion of my music and career. He personally passed along my music the the Sixthman team, and they were kind enough to see something in me and bring me along.
ER: How did you get your start as a musician?
JM: My parents are both athletes — my mother ran the marathon for the United States on the 1988 Olympic Team, and my dad played college — but they are not exactly “musical,” except for an intense love of music and theatre. They saw that I loved to sing, and they had me audition for Ragazzi, The Peninsula Boys Chorus. Through Ragazzi, I got first-rate musical training and the opportunity to perform around the world, as well as with San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, and Chanticleer, the legendary men’s a cappella group. That’s where it all started for me!
ER: Some songwriters I know only seem to be inspired to write when there’s heartbreak involved. Over and over again, both when I read your bio online and when I saw you in person, I was touched by your commitment to bringing joy and hope to your audience. Can you speak to that a little more for us?
JM: Some of my favorite art is rooted in the angst, suffering, and tough things that we all experience as human beings, but my calling as an artist is definitely the opposite. Truth be told, I started writing music in a time of deep pain, having lost one of my oldest friends at a young age in a stupid and senseless accident. But my reaction was to write music that celebrated life and love and the goodness that surrounds us every day. I think a lot of it is personal, actually making music that reminds me to be optimistic and loving. I see my music and my career as a platform for bringing a bit of joy to the world while I’m here.
ER: I was also surprised to learn from your website that you have an extensive background in international social justice work. Have you found a way to fuse your love of that kind of work with your music?
JM: Absolutely. I had so many wonderful opportunities to study and then work at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford with world-class professors and policymakers. Ironically, I think that my music has given me a unique platform to talk about what I’m most passionate about. After all, it gives me an audience and a microphone! I hope that any success I find in my music career will lend itself to being a small part of the struggle for a safer, freer world.
ER: We get the pleasure of seeing you at Slim’s on Friday, March 16. What’s next on the horizon after that?
JM: I cannot wait — Slim’s is one of my favorite venues in the world. It has been a whirlwind six months, and I am putting the finishing touches on a project inspired by David Ruffin, the iconic lead singer for The Temptations and my favorite voice of all time. We will be releasing that project and a ton of new music over the coming year; I couldn’t be more excited.
Jack Mosbacher is playing Friday, March 16 at Slim’s in San Francisco (Tickets $16-$40 Show 8:00)
Emilie Rohrbach has taught music and theater to grades pre-school through 8th in San Francisco and Marin counties for the last 20 years. She has been a freelance writer for Divine Caroline for five years, and her writing has appeared in Narratively, Hippocampus, Common Ground, Travelers’ Tales, and Marin Magazine, among others. She is passionate about Room to Read, Shanti Bhavan, and Destiny Arts and serves on the board of Knighthorse Theatre Company.