Astrid Swan – Finnish singer/songwriter looking for inspiration @ House of Songs, Austin

My  name is Astrid Swan. I’m a Finnish singer/songwriter and a doctoral student from Helsinki.
I am currently in Austin Texas in The House of Songs. My stay here is dedicated to writing and co-writing with local songwriters. Luckily, I have also had time to explore Austin with my family, who I was fortunate enough to be able to bring along. It has been a wonderful break from the grey, cold and dark times of Finnish winter which we left behind. The bustling, warm and welcoming surroundings of Austin and its people have offered us a chance to pause and have some distance from our usual routines. Meeting local songwriters has been the best part of being here. It is quite a strange and exhilarating feeling to meet someone for the first time and then immediately write music and lyrics with that new person.

This trip to the USA has been significant for me personally, because for the past years I have remained very close to home – first with a small baby and then because I was in treatment for a life-threatening illness. The complete change of scenery has afforded me the freedom to redefine our day-to-day life, embrace new tastes, neighborhoods, friends, climates, thoughts and dreams.

Leaving our safe and sound home environment behind was not easy, but once we were on our way it has been fun!
After initial jet-lag, I have been surprised by how easily a young child adjusts to a new temporary home – embracing its differences and making gentle comparisons to his home far far away.

The nature in Austin has been a source of wonder and delight, our child has loved seeing palm trees, oranges, nut trees and millions of cactus variations. Another very material way of getting to know new surroundings is the local cuisine. We have enjoyed lots of Mexican food, some pizza, one meal of hamburgers and lots of home cooking from wonderful organic ingredients. Eating fresh berries, nuts and chilies and tasting the American cinnamon rolls for example, have been important steps in getting comfortable in a new place.

Since my last visit in Austin (in 2007) the city has grown and changed significantly. What I see and feel is simply my own interpretation, but it seems that there is a two-way development in action: on the one hand the city is attracting big business, it is becoming more expensive, consumer-oriented, polished and mainstream, but on the other hand poverty, homelessness, need and despair is more visible than before. The divide seems bigger.

The ‘old Austin’ with its rich alternative culture appears to be mostly a memory and a facade that is held up for tourists. Not being able to drive in a city like Austin is a real limitation. The lay-out of the city is not designed for walking or for public transport. Using services like Uber and taxis has been the only way for us to get to different areas of the city. We have also walked more than the locals. Walking has been a great way of experiencing the city, but some distances are simply too long. I have thought about the differences in city planning a lot this time during my stay. Reachability and access are key aspects in deciding what kinds of people are welcome to visit areas and parts of a city. I have noticed that this question of location is also a question of class in the US. From this point of view my hometown in Finland could not be more different.

Writing with local Austin songwriters has been very rewarding. I have learned about what kind of a songwriter I am. I have gotten lovely feedback and have admired the talent and originality of the musical souls I have met. I have also been able to compare cowriting culture here and in Finland.
It has been delightful to realize that good songs are still the currency that counts.

As I write my stay in Austin is nearing its end. We will stay in the US for another week-long vacation in New Mexico visiting some dear friends of our family. On Monday December 7th (TOMORROW) I will perform some songs at the Strange Brew Cafe in Austin. My fellow musicians and cowriters Graham Weber from Austin and the Swedish Simon Stålspets will be playing too.

TONIGHT Dec 7 she is performing @ Strange Brew Cafe (5326 Manchaca Road, Austin) with a fellow Swede Simon Stålspets and Graham Weber from Austin.

Just a quick look into Astrid’s world (an older tape though):

Website: Astrid Swan

Infographic: These are the cheapest cities in Europe to visit 2015

Anyone who is European or been to Europe knows that travel through Europe can be surprisingly costly. Even more if you have special interest in cities like London, Zurich, or Stockholm. However, travel through Europe can be affordable: that is if you know which cities to go to.
The website put together the infographic breaking down the cheapest cities in Europe.

The costs — which use what the Price of Travel website calls the “European Backpacker Index” — include a night in a hostel, two trips on public transportation, one paid attraction, three budget meals, and three drinks.

The top 10 cheapest cities are really amazing towns. The winner is in Ukraine.
Check the infographic out, and start rethinking that next European trip.


Miami – Dec 6 2015

Join author and climate provocateur Guy McPherson as he brings the debate on climate change and species extinction to the heart of the International Art Community at Basel Miami, ground zero when it comes to future sea level rise. This pop-up event, organized and moderated by Urban Hunters David Tamargo and Matthew Devlen, is the first in a series of events in the works to lead the artistic community on a creative crusade for the future of the planet.

Houston – Dec 16 2015

Please join us at Absolve Wine Lounge on December 16, 2015, at 6:00 pm for the EuroCircle Houston Christmas Party and White Elephant Gift Exchange. Happy hour prices on wine range from $5.00 to $8.00 per glass until 8:00 pm.

There will be 3 sparkling wines, 3 white wines, 1 rose, and 4 red wines available at those prices. Happy hour bites range from $3.50 to $6.00. If you would like to participate in the White Elephant Gift Exhange, bring a gift under $15.00 in value.

If you are not a member yet, please sign up on: — it is FREE.
Facebook has restricted access to a larger audience, thus, we highly recommend you sign up at our website.
Your support is always appreciated. Please help spread the word among your connections.
Your hosts:

Venere, Shahla, Wade and Juliana
EuroCircle Houston Facebook Group
EuroCircle Houston Page at our website. Meet the team, check out our past event photos and more.

Denver – Dec 21 2015

Come kick-off your holiday vacation at EuroCircle’s holiday cocktail hour. This event will be at the beautiful Oxford Hotel’s Cruise Room.

Please invite all your European friends and Europhiles to join,

See you there!



PS. Are you at Facebook?  If you use the same email at both site, you can also login with your facebook login – the site will ask you if you want to use the same name (edit allowed), it will also ask you to edit EuroCircle City (Denver) and from which country you are from to complete your profile.

If you are NOT a member the same steps work – except this time all the information will be grabbed from your FB profile.


Jari Mattila – New York For Everyone

Hi Everyone!

My name is Jari Mattila. I’m originally from Helsinki Finland, and have lived in the US since 1984. As to what/who I am, well, that’s a little more difficult to answer, except that after living in various parts of the US, I’ve discovered that, at least for me, there really is no place like NY. My favorite thing (other than traveling myself…) is to tour the city with visitors and to share my own experiences, as a European in the US, with them.

Here’s a little background:

I originally came to the U.S. as a teenager to attend high school as an exchange student in Madison, Wisconsin. Following High School, I spent the next four years studying music at William Paterson University in suburban New Jersey, as well as working as a musician in salsa and merengue bands all over the metropolitan area, most often in Queens. Like many other northerners, I’ve always had a fascination with warm weather, and soon after graduation decided to give Southern California a try and experience the year-round sunshine and the swaying palm trees. San Diego turned out to be as beautiful as everyone had said, but after living there for nearly a decade, I still missed the energy and lifestyle of New York. There simply is no other place as exciting and full of life. Not to mention the interesting (and funny!) people….

That move happened in 1998 after which I spent the next 15 years or so working with the music departments of two soap operas, Guiding Light and As The World Turns, as well as managing Procter & Gamble’s music publishing companies. P&G owned most of the soap operas since the genre began in the 30s and is actually the reason for the term “Soap Opera.” P&G originally started out as a soap manufacturing company who then created dramatic (therefore “opera”) TV shows on which they advertised their own products exclusively.

In addition to working in music publishing, and as music director for the P&G soaps, I also had some small acting gigs in a yet another soap, One Life to Live, as well as a few low budget independent movies. I’ve always enjoyed acting and continue doing it whenever an opportunity presents itself. My next project is a courtroom/suspense play titled “Second Seat,” which will have its performances in January.

After the soaps operas ended (it was about time, they were on every weekday for nearly 80 years!) I realized that this would be a chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, which is to put together a private tour and relocation company. I have always loved spending a day walking or driving around the city while having interesting conversations with great people so this is really the ideal job for me. And it’s rewarding work, too, as being able to enhance someone’s NY experience, whether they are from Finland, Estonia, Spain, or Wisconsin, is really what’s it’s all about for me. 🙂

All the best,

Jari Mattila
New York For Everyone

New York – Dec 31 2015

This is a ticketed event!

EuroCircle and Privé Group are gathering the finest of New York’s high society for a night of exuberance and dancing at New York’s highest loft oasis, the Midtown Loft and Terrace.

We cordially invite you for a special NYE party hosted by Playboy’s very own Ashley Massaro featured on the cover of Playboy Magazine. Playboy’s Ashley Massaro, socialites, and celebrities will dance while bringing the New Year together. Come drink and eat all night at NYC’s most exclusive party including an All Night Open Bar from 9pm-4am and enjoy delicious passed appetizers.

The Ambiance – an 11 story rooftop loft penthouse, is Manhattan’s best kept secret. Featuring full circumspect panoramic views, of the empire state building and across the NYC Skyline. The private loft event space is two stories with one penthouse loft space below an exquisite rooftop. This is NYC’s only all night Open Bar, come bring in the New Year, on top of the best city in the world.

This, invite-only event will have socialites and celebrities in attendance. Top executives, models, celebrities anchored by Privé guest list will be dressed in their most fashionable attire to dance the evening away, bringing the New Year in on the top of the world. The surprise celebrity guests are confirmed but remain anonymous. Past celeb attendees include The Pussycat Dolls, Kid Cudi, Swiss Beatz, Derek Jeter, Richie Rich, Pamela Anderson’s muse and designer partner, Hall of Frame basketball player Earl The Pearl Monroe, and much more.

Your Hosts look forward to ringing in the New Year 2016 with you!

Mina Deutsch, Hungary and

Ilona Lee, Poland,

Michael Alexander, Cyprus/Greece

Alexandra and the EuroCircle New York Team


Atlanta – Dec 02 2015

Greetings everyone:

Our December Holiday Get-together will take place at the brand new Il Giallo Osteria & Bar located in Sandy Springs (just across I285) off Roswell Road in the shopping center behind the Sandy Springs Le Font Theatre. This is an amazing Italian Restaurant & Bar and we will have access to the entire spacious bar area. Complimentary appetizers will be on hand early evening & parking around the venue is free so come out and celebrate the holiday season with us as well as our last Get-together for 2015.

Wishing all a happy Thanksgiving and looking forward to seeing everyone next Wednesday (December 2nd)!!!

EuroCircle Atlanta

Dallas – Nov 20 2015

Thanks to our photographers Paula Hallahuhta (Austin) and Matthew Devlen.

Please invite all your European friends to join us.

Alex & Matthew / EuroCircle Dallas


Trinity Design District, on Oak Lawn at Hi-Line.  Meddlesome Moth has a full bar and the city’s best beer menu featuring 40 draught beers, two live ales and more than 85 bottles to help us round out theirselection.

Chances are if you’ve seen it in a commercial, they don’t serve it.

San Francisco – Dec 04 2015

Sinterklaas is the most beloved of all Dutch & Belgium holidays and traditions!
And one, Low Land people are fiercely proud of. Don’t you dare go messing about with this very gezellig affair!
Check out on December 4 WHY? (The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, as well as some parts of Germany, Czech Republic, French Flanders, Lorraine and Artois.)

Sinterklaas is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire (still is an empire to me :), including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Indonesia, and Suriname.  Sinterklaas laid the premise for Santa Clause.

Sinterklaas music will be played but as always when people want to dance the tables will be turned and the EDM/House music will rule the sky as the Sint himself on a white schimmel (horse) soaring above the roofs for the good people on his list deserving of a present filled with a good time.

The Polski and Czech society will join us to turn the Sinterklaas party into a super EDM/Euro House Party by 10PM.

Marc James and the EuroCircle & NLBorrel Team