Actually, the roots go back at least to LA in the early 80's. The punk band X convened a side project called The Knitters to write country songs. The cowpunk genre had bands like Tex and the Horseheads. They weren't the only, though. Bands like Rank and File, Blood on the Saddle, Long Ryders, the Rave Ups, The Textones, and Lone Justice were updating the west coast country rock sound with heavy doses of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. The Blasters and Dwight Yoakam were going retro. This was all in LA, believe it or not.

I don't think there's much historical memory about this scene. It piggybacked on punk and music industry rock. The most notable artifact from this era is Scott Goddard's novelty song, Cowpunk. (Goddard was in the Surf Punks.)